In my opinion, the very large dances are the worst for everyone pre booking. Being a single female dancer, it is always a little traumatic going to a dance alone. I have been to the AGM Friday and Saturday night dances,a few times over the years and the AGM dance at Aberdeen some years ago was the worst ever. I hardly danced at all and there was nothing like enough seats for the many hundreds attending, so not only did I have to stand alone all night, but with a couple of exceptions, everyone I asked to dance was already fully booked well ahead. In the end I felt (probably wrongly) so conspicuous, I resorted to going up on the balcony and just watching, with the non dancers and photographers. Ironically, in the later RSCDS magazine, one of the photographs of that particular ball included the rare occasion of me dancing in a set!!! The following year the dances were held back again at Perth and I can honestly say that , on neither occasion did I get asked for many dances, and many of those I asked, inavailable. I came away thinking perhaps it was my demeanor, and have since decided that the lengthy journey of some 300 miles and the cost of overnight hotels just isnt worth the embarrassment of dozens of refusals by those pre booked, or the perceived ignomy of continually sitting out. Even those I have sat with at the tables in Perth (no names-no pack drill!) seemed to prefer their own spouses and friends to dance with, than a relative stranger. Just in case you are thinking the worst, I do not have two heads and am considered a competent, RSCDS trained and reasonably fit dancer.
Having said all of that, our local dances of say... under 100 dancers seem less austere and certainly more friendly, though pre booking is a problem. Also I occasionally go to Kent and join in the dance evenings there and have found them very welcoming and pre-booking does not seem to be much in evidence in the area.
In consequence, and on a personal note, I would proffer the thought that perhaps the biggest losers in this "to book or not to book" saga, are those females who usually attend dances alone. Twas ever thus!