The Seahorse Tavern claims the title of Nova Scotia’s oldest existing bar; it opened its doors on Argyle Street in 1948 and has been a nightlife staple of Halifax ever since. 2014 brought relocation from its long-time home on Argyle to the basement underneath the Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street (former home of the bar Hell’s Kitchen). The move was a great success, and the “new and improved Seahorse” is a popular destination for Haligonians.
Speaking of the Seahorse, local folkie Ben Caplan told us that “a lot of great East Coast talent has been raised up in that establishment. Go listen any night of the week. You’ll hear any of half a dozen genres of music, or maybe an open mic where you can discover some rough gems.”
The Seahorse is the quintessential Nova Scotian bar, featuring loud live music, large friendly crowds and an unpretentious, kitchen-party vibe. It’s a good idea to arrive early to ensure entrance on crowded Friday and Saturday nights and purchase tickets in advance for the more popular shows — lines are long on the weekends, but weekdays are more low-key. Capacity for the Tavern is 300, and the Retro ’80s and ’90s nights pack the masses in for rowdy dance parties. Other popular monthly themed nights include the Motown-dominated It Felt Like a Kiss, reggae dancehall night Dub Kartel and the Jam, which promises an “all-inclusive dance party” night that features an eclectic mix of music.
A variety of acts play this cavernous yet welcoming venue. Matthew Good, Great Lake Swimmers and the Trews are among the bigger names who have played the Seahorse, and the bar hosts a variety of local and touring artists like Adam Baldwin, Walrus, Quiet Parade and Julie Doiron. The Seahorse has also hosted shows at many Halifax music festivals, like Halifax Pop Explosion (The Barr Brothers, Crosss, the Pack A.D., Ty Segall, comedian Todd Barry), OBEY Convention (Moor Mother, Each Other) and In the Dead of Winter (Owen Pallett, the Wooden Sky).
The Seahorse has four non-binary bathroom stalls, is wheelchair accessible and the bar recently installed a ramp to the back entrance. There is a single step onto the dance floor area; management says they will soon install a temporary ramp.