For the Gentlemen
Perfect the basics in each one of the dances before going on to learn a lot of patterns and steps. Most ladies prefer good solid basics and a consistent lead over a library of fancy steps done in a mediocre fashion (as overheard in the powder room).
Dance with a number of different ladies. Don't ignore the beginning dancers. You were in the same situation once. (Plus the ladies do improve and they have excellent memories!)
Lead your partner smoothly and carefully through the dance crowd. Be careful that hands and elbows do not collide with those of other couples. (A lady shouldn't end up with bruises from dancing!)
When asking a lady to dance, offer her your hand if she accepts, and escort her to an open spot on the floor. If the floor is crowded, ask her to help you pick a suitable spot. Do escort the lady back to her table or chair after the dance; offer her your arm. Never leave her in the middle of the floor.
Observe "Line of Dance" rules and etiquette always. (If you don't know t means, ask your dance teacher.)
In the event of a collision with another couple, always apologize, even if it wasn't your fault. Make sure there are no hurt bodies or feelings to deal with later.
Don't use your partner as a battering ram to open up a path between other dancers.
Don't apologize for being a beginning dancer. Being a student in a dance class shows you are willing to learn and improve (Everyone starts at zero, when it comes to dance technique.)
Don't dance just once with your significant other and ignore her for the rest of the evening. (Unless you want to become part of the show later in the evening.)
Don't be an amateur instructor. Just because you've got a few lessons under your belt does not mean you are qualified to share your new expertise with all the beginning ladies.
Keep your comments to yourself and invite her to dance class.
Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember that holding a beautiful woman in your arms is fun and that the dance floor is the adult version of sandbox!
For the Ladies
It's OK to ask a gentleman to dance (read that again?) Yes, ladies you may have to do some subtle prompting to get those fellas out on the floor. (Why? because the guys need a bit more encouragement with this.) A nice way to do it is to ask the gentleman if he knows this dance. If he gets the hint, he'll ask you. If he doesn't know the dance, ask him which ones he knows or prefers and then say, "Please save a (dance he knows) for me this evening."
Dance with a variety of gentlemen. It will improve your following skills and make you a better dancer. Plus, it tells the other men in the room that you will dance with them too.
Always pay attention to your dance partner and try, to the best of your ability, to follow what he leads (even if you know it's wrong). Never correct your partner, leave the instruction and advice for the dance teacher.
Smile. It will soothe a nervous or unsure partner and set a positive example for your partner. Plus, it makes the guys feel like a million bucks!
When a gentleman asks you to dance, give him your hand. After the dance, thank him. If you enjoyed the dance, it is appropriate to ask for another then or later in the evening.
Don't dance at the expense of your partner or dance for other men on the sidelines. Making your partner look bad will not impress anyone. (You may be a very good dancer, but you will be a lonely one!)
Don't give your partner glazed or dirty looks, when they make a mistake or blow the lead. Chances are he will get better, and then you'll really be in trouble.
Don't apologize for being a beginning dancer. The gentleman who asks you to dance isn't interested in your dance resume; he is interested in you.
Don't ignore your significant other or dance date. He won't mind you dancing with other gentlemen as long as he knows you're with him.
Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember that holding a handsome man in your arms is fun and that the dance floor is the adult version of sandbox!