I would suggest Starting Strength (info can be found here : http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:Introduction ), it's a 3 day a week program (2 day alternating) with 3 main exercises each day. The two places you might have trouble with are bench and press, if your gym is like mine it'll have pre weighted dumbbells that are lighter than a normal bar. And you can always substitute inverted rows for power cleans if you don't feel comfortable.
That website also includes information for form, to supplement this I would look up videos on youtube (Mark Ripptoe has some good ones on squat form, I saw a good one on power cleans by a crossfit group, etc).
It CAN be dangerous to work with free weights. what you should focus on is form at low weights (I would assume you would start with bar weight and do the minimal 5lb increases per workout) which will make it safer when you get to the higher weights. I would get one of the gym staff to check your form, or another lifter who knows what he/she is doing. Another option is to take a class on technique.
And don't be intimidated by the athlete's, most of them would probably help you if asked for assistance. I'm actually disappointed that more people aren't fighting me for the squat rack (for real use, not the idiots doing stupid stuff), especially women, I've only seen 2 women use the squat rack at my gym in 2 months.