The reality star, who first competed on The Bachelorette before heading to BiP, where he found love with now-girlfriend Kendall Long, made his debut on the ABC reality dance competition series on Monday.
“I was on The Bachelorette and I got eliminated the first night, which was pretty embarrassing, and then I was asked to be on Bachelor in Paradise, where I met my girlfriend Kendall,” Amabile explained in his video package. “I’m from Chicago, Kendall lives in L.A., so it’s great because now I get to be close to her,” he said, and quipped, “and I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do and dance.”
For the season, Amabile is partnered with pro dancer Jenna Johnson, who was elated to learn that he was her celebrity partner.
“Oh my gosh, Grocery Store Joe!” Johnson, 24, said during their introduction.
But Amabile warned that he had no experience in the ballroom. “Oh, you’re excited, huh? Don’t be that excited,” he told her. “I don’t know how to dance.”
“I was eliminated day one on The Bachelorette,” said Amabile. “I will not let the same thing happen here.”
During his night one number, the pair performed a quickstep for both viewers and judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. While the audience loudly cheered for Amabile, the judges issued some harsh critiques to the dancer-in-training.
“Well, the good news is you have a big fan section right here!” said Inaba as loud cheers could be heard from the audience. “Not quite a dancer yet, but we’re still at the beginning — we’re at week one. I see you have charm. You can push a shopping cart really well.”
When it came to Goodman’s criticism, he didn’t hold back: “Oh Joe. I really liked you. I’ve never met you, but I liked you. I like your personality. … I was really rooting for you. The trouble is, going wrong is a bit like getting a pimple. You try and cover it up, but people always see it. And unfortunately, I didn’t want you to go wrong, Joe!”
Tonioli added, “I think you just forgot the dance technique in the shopping trolley. You’ll find it next week.”
While waiting for his scores, Amabile told co-host Erin Andrews, “I’m glad it’s over” and admitted, “It wasn’t easy.”
Though he said that the duo “had fun” out on the dance floor, Amabile and Johnson were awarded the lowest score of the night, earning a 14/30 from Goodman, Inaba and Tonioli.
After it was announced that Amabile was joining DWTS, he opened up to PEOPLE about why he signed on.
“It’s a good opportunity. Why not do it?” he said.
“I don’t know how to dance. I don’t remember the last season I saw but it was probably a couple years ago. If I watch now, I’ll psych myself out. It will be really bad. I’ll probably be throwing up,” he added.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.