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Nightlife: The Seahorse Tavern hosting more free events

'For a business trying to keep their doors open, a little customer appreciation goes a long way'
Seahorse Tavern sign.

The legendary Seahorse Tavern has been hosting live music and dance events for 50 years.

Like most night clubs, its business model relies on ticket sales and cover charges combined with drink sales. That’s why it’s odd for a club like this to start hosting more free events.

“Everyone is just a little broke right now,” said Kyle McCracken, booking manager for the Seahorse and the Marquee Ballroom.

Since the new year, the Seahorse has been hosting events called “Free AF Fridays” and “Free AF Saturdays.” They don’t happen every weekend, but they’re often enough to catch people's attention.

“It’s great to just see the room packed with smiling people enjoying music and having a night out,” said McCracken.

From a business perspective, the Seahorse doesn’t have much to gain from these events, not immediately anyway. "We still make drink sales, obviously, but we rake in a modest amount compared to covered events,” said McCracken

But in the long run, McCracken sees these free events as beneficial for the business, and for the Halifax nightlife scene as a whole.

“We have a few other priorities in place other than making money on a Friday or Saturday night. We have a really loyal patronage here at the Seahorse and we want to keep that and reward that.”

Since McCracken took over as booking manager for the Seahorse and Marquee, it’s been important to him to pay musicians and performers a substantial amount. Because of this, prices for other events, especially events with bands or multiple sets, have increased under his management. 

“We raised our standard of ticket prices across the board, which is great for bands but it creates barriers,” said McCracken. But he believes reducing these barriers on other nights helps even out the balance.

McCracken adds customer appreciation goes a long way for a business trying to keep its doors open.

"Keeping people coming out at all is just a positive.”

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