If your only exposure to the Tango is from watching Dancing with the Stars, then this Thanksgiving season is the time to expand your horizons. Clay Nelson, a dance instructor who moved to Ashland two years ago, organized the Second Annual Ashland Tango Festival which will be taking place in and around Ashland Thanksgiving Day through Sunday.

The Tango Festival joins the more traditional lineup of things to do around Ashland, from ice skating to parade watching to last-minute meal preparation, as a kickoff to the holiday season.

Nelson has arranged Tango festivals in Seattle and Portland for years.

"I love Ashland and I love the Tango," he said. "Organizing a local festival seemed like the natural next move."

He said about 150 people participated last year. The festival, featuring 26 classes for beginner to advanced dancers, is taught by instructors from the U.S., Argentina and Colombia. People interested in dancing the Tango in a milonga, which literally means where you go to dance Tango exclusively, can register at festival headquarters at MOJO Rising, 140 Lithia Way. Before taking any classes, dancers must obtain an admission badge. Wallflowers who just want to watch the Tango only need to pay the admission fee.

Nelson said the true Tango, first developed in Buenos Aires, is meant to be danced heart-to-heart. "The popular way to do it today is farther apart because you can do fancy moves," he said. "But we teach the original social dance, called the close embrace."

For beginners or first-time participants, Nelson suggests Saturday's Grande Ball Milonga at the historical U.S. Hotel Ballroom in Jacksonville.

"We're offering a free shuttle service from MOJO Rising on a bright red, British double-decker bus," he said. "Beginner lessons start at 7 p.m., dancing is from 8 p.m. to — a.m. and we'll be offering special performances at 10 p.m."

Nelson said the more advanced Tango crowd would probably want to hit the Post Grande Ball Milonga at MOJO Rising from — a.m. to 4 a.m (yes, that's a.m., as in the middle of the night). For a complete schedule of the four-day event, fees and the free shuttle times, check out /ashland/schedule.html

For those not interested in breaking out the dancing shoes, more typical holiday happenings abound in Ashland.

The Darex Family Ice Rink next to Lithia Park is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (weather permitting). The costs are as follows: adults $3, youths $2.50, hockey $4 and skate rental is $2.

The 8th Annual Thanksgiving Dance Feast will be held on Thursday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Dance Space, 280 E. Hersey,

10. The Nia Dance Feast, facilitated by Rachael R. Resch and Sarah Rose Marshank, encourages all participants to take part in the gentle dance movements based on traditions from around the world, followed by meditation.

"We set our intent for the day with body awareness, gratitude and mindfulness," says Resch. The cost is $10 and is open to anyone.

The Rogue Valley Interfaith Ministries is hosting its 24th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, at Wesley Hall, 165 North Main Street. This year's theme is Giving in Community. Representatives will speak, sing or dance from various traditions including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, Baha'i, Druid, Taoist and Unitarian. This colorful Ashland tradition is fun and free and all are welcome. For more information contact Robin Noll at 535-1361.

A free Community Thanksgiving Potluck Picnic Jamboree is being held Thanksgiving Day at Lithia Park Gazebo and Butler Bandshell from noon to 4 p.m. Komac Tapp, one of the organizers, will serve vegetarian stew and is asking the community to "bring what you can: meats, vegetable dishes, desserts, liquids, musical instruments, bliss-ware and yourself."

A few restaurants will be open Thursday; however, Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine and Winchester Inn are already booked. A representative at Winchester said they are taking names for its waiting list, but that it's three pages long. The Wild Goose, located at 2365 Ashland St., is serving a Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 9 p.m. Call 488-4103.

For last-minute grocery items, the following stores will be open: Albertson's, 2301 Ashland Street, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Market of Choice, 1475 Siskiyou Blvd., 7 a.m. to — p.m., Safeway, 585 Siskiyou Blvd., 6 a.m. to midnight and Shop'n Kart, 2268 Ashland St., open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Northwest Nature Shop, located at 154 Oak St., is hosting its annual Holiday Open House on Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. They are offering samples of 2005 Pinot Noir, 2006 Early Muscat and 2006 Pinot Gris from — to — p.m. from Oregon's little-known Winter's Hill Winery. Chocolate samples will also be available as well as award-winning cheeses from the Rogue River Creamery in Central Point will also be available.

Mike Houck, founder of the Urban Greenspaces Institute from Portland, will be available from noon to 2 p.m. to sign books. The Urban Greenspaces Institute works to create cities where the built and natural environments are interwoven, not set apart. It promotes the integration of urban green infrastructure-parks, trails, streams and wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, urban forest canopy and greenspaces with the built environment. Their motto, "In Livable Cities is Preservation of the Wild," reflects the philosophy that well-designed, nature-rich cities are beautiful, equitable, compact, and ecologically sustainable places to live, and thereby reducing urban sprawl across the rural landscape. These events are free and open to the public. For more information call 482-3241.

Rachel Grote, a choreographer and performer from Boulder, Colo., will be premiering her newest solo work called "Siempre Contigo" (Simply Within) on Friday at 7 p.m. at DanceSpace, 280 E. Hersey,

10. For tickets call the Music Coop at 482-3115

Ashland Christian Fellowship is hosting a Community Potluck Thanksgiving Meal on Sunday from — to 6 p.m. at Pioneer Hall across from Lithia Park. Bring a covered dish if you can. Call William Hayes at 482-5350.

A complete listing of events following Thanksgiving can be found in this week's Revels, which will be published Friday instead of its usual time on Thursday because the Ashland Daily Tidings does not print a newspaper on Thanksgiving.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x226 or . To post a comment, visit www.dailytidings.