To contribute my two cents to this thread: I lead the dance group in
Baton Rouge LA, and I have found that good demonstrations attract
newcomers to our group. What is even more effective, though, is to
combine demonstrations with one or two easy, audience participation
dances like Kingston Flyer or Cumberland Reel. Such dances let
observers become participants and see how fun dancing can be. Also, to
touch on another thread, these demonstrations/participations can help
overcome the 'decline' in SCD by introducing young persons to dancing.
As a result of our demonstrations, we attracted five high school
students to dancing, though they only were able to attend in the
summer when school was out.
I will say, though, that a 8x32 Strathspey may not be the best
demonstration dance! Even a 8x32 reel like Reel of the 51st can bore
an audience. We try to do dances with 4 or 3 repetitions.
On a related note, we find that very few of the members of the local
Caledonian society ever join our dancing. Almost all of our new
dancers have found us first, then joined the Caledonian society - only
one person migrated the other way. We do demonstrations/participations
at Caledonian events, but rarely get anyone to turn up for the next
dance class. Is this the same elsewhere? Would anyone know why?