So, you’ve attended a few group classes, learned the basics of moving your partner (or being moved) around the floor, and generally starting to feel like maybe your vision of becoming a sharp and sexy dancer might not be a total pipe-dream after all. Time to take it to a social ballroom dancing club, right?

Well, yes, but there’s a few things you should probably know before you run out the door.

1. Prepare to eat a big slice of humble pie.

The fact is, social ballroom dancing is a skill like any other, and the first few times you go out, most of the other goers will have more practice at it than you. There’s a big difference between drilling your steps in your well-lit and relatively uncrowded studio, and trying those same patterns with dim lighting, loud music, rubbing elbows, and sometimes strobe lighting or other distractions.

And if you are new to the scene, you can’t count on strangers saying ‘yes’ all the time. Speaking of which…

2. If they say ‘no’, it’s not personal.

Maybe they’ve been dancing for a while and prefer someone with a little more experience under their belt. Maybe they prefer dancing with their friends, or haven’t quite realized you’re ‘safe’. Or maybe they really did mean it when they said they had a headache, or needed a glass of water, or whatever excuse they tossed your way. The absolute least likely scenario is they specifically wanted to ruin your evening. Take an acronym from the used-car salesman’s notebook – SWSWSWN: Some Will. Some Won’t. So What? Next.

Incidentally, I don’t believe the man is the only person who can ask a partner to dance. I’m generally flattered when a woman asks me to dance, and admire her confidence in doing so. One good tip I’ve heard is to scope out the room, and if your sex is in the majority, get up and start asking. You might not grab a partner on the first dance, but you can sure place yourself to snatch them up on the second!

3. Dress casual, but not too casual

Comfortable jeans or dress pants, plus a nice shirt that breathes well, is fine in most places. Sweat pants, hoodies, and ball caps might fit right in at the Croc Rock, but won’t score you any dances at the Latin or Ballroom hangout, where the standards tend to be a little higher. Make sure you dress in something that fits your frame comfortably, no matter your body type. Few things are less attractive than a man’s gut hanging out under his size small muscle shirt, or a women’s ‘muffin top’ over her super-tight jeggings.

What else can you do to make your first social ballroom dancing experience a little easier? Convince a partner to join you! That way you both know there’s at least one other person at the dance as green as you are, whom you can run to if the going gets tough. You can also check out websites like dancer, that are designed to help new and experienced dancers find each other, with no romantic strings attached.

Whether you have a partner or not, acknowledge it’s going to be rough at first, and keep going out. Remember that the first time is always the worst, and each time after that, you’ll be a little more familiar with the club or dance hall atmosphere.

And honestly, if you have any plans to start social ballroom dancing, go sooner rather than later; the longer you wait, the easier it is to put it off and stay in the safety of your studio. Social ballroom dancing, as I’ve already mentioned, is a skill that needs practice to improve. So set a date, get out there, and start practicing.