Transportation and Lodging
Jeff and I were honored to be guests of Bitcoin Magazine at the conference. The venue was in the Wynwood district of Miami, which is considered its art district. It was central and urban with most exposed walls of buildings covered in murals and graffiti.
There was a large parking lot in front of the convention center that we assumed would be available to park in, however, that was the large outside area of the conference covered with branded tents like Swan Bitcoin, the Open Source tent, bar, and a couple places to sit and watch the presentations on large projection screens. Parking was limited to the streets surrounding the event. That was a headache for anyone driving themselves to the conference from their hotels.
We were staying in an Airbnb in the North Beach area. It was only about 5 miles from the convention center, but took roughly 25-30 mins of travel. Ansel lives in Florida and had his car, so we were able to drive back and forth without getting an Uber, but we heard that Uber was around $50 one way. For two days at the conference, that's at least $200 in Uber rides, more than you will spend on food. The parking and transportation situation was a headache. Next year, Bitcoin & Markets might try to put together a solution for this by organizing rooms in proximity to other members of this community, and coordinating rides and after hours activities.
The venue was very big, clean and professionally run. The total attendance was approximately 15,000, with the inside area holding about half that number. The main stage area could accommodate 4,000 seats but they were small seats that men could not fit in side by side. The first half of the first day, there was a lot of people standing all around the back and sides of the seating area, but the Fire Marshal came in an put a stop to that. We only were inside for a total of one hour, the rest of the time spent outside.
There was plenty of seating outside, much of it shaded which was nice. Two large screens on the east and west ends of this parking lot area gave ample ability to watch the speakers. There was a full service bar, with beer, wine, and liquor, but the prices were outrageous, $12 for a single shot cocktail.
There was a wide range of people there. Inside were tons of different vender booths as usual. Bitcoiners and shitcoiners were both represented. We expected more shitcoiners because of the recent pump in altcoins like doge and this being the biggest conference ever for the space, but I'd put it at about 80/20, bitcoiners/shitcoiners.
The male/female ratio was also interesting. We noticed several groups of females without males, but most females were there with their boyfriends or husbands. It was less of a sausage-fest than we initially assumed, but still not a great ratio if you are interested in meeting girls at the conference based on shared interest. We'd put the male/female ratio about 70/3o.
Vendors and Art
There was activity around the vendors with the most busy booths being those which were bitcoin specific like Bisq. The area of the inside venue that we probably spent the most time in was the art gallery. It was pretty cool. About 20 artists traveled and displayed their art which you could bid for directly in bitcoin/sats. It was cool to see the artists and it gave the whole conference a community feeling in a way. Well done on this part Bitcoin Magazine!
We hope an art gallery becomes a feature, not only of bitcoin conferences in the future, but of all professional conferences. It was a change of pace to go from the high pressure vendor booths into the art gallery to appreciate the culture and community of this up-and-coming giant industry. The two places that the FOSS and Cypherpunk culture was most tangible was the open source tent and the art gallery.
Admittedly, we did not see most of the speakers. We were only at the venue for a few hours both days. Initially, there was somewhat of a Bitconnect vibe because of the dark main-stage seating and stage lighting. There was no "Wasa wasa wasa wasa up BITCONNECT!" from the stage or anything like that. Maybe it was just two old-school bitcoiners being surprised by the size and energy of the place.
This was a pure bitcoin conference. Speakers were nearly 100% bitcoin speakers, with only a couple pluralists there maybe. That was a HUGE change in energy from prior conferences in the space, even bitcoin centric conferences. In the past, you would have the likes of Eric Voorhees (Chief pluralist at ShapeShift) and Roger Ver (Chief bitcoin enemy and altcoin founder). None of that vibe was apparent this time.
One of the great things Bitcoin Magazine did was having two smaller stages you could get to through the parking lot area. On those stages, content producers, podcasters, YouTubers, and so forth gave their presentations. We very much appreciated that and hope that idea continues to grow, recognizing content producers and community members like that by giving them a platform. Excellent job there.
Last week we said our initial reaction was one of witnessing a major milestone in the life of bitcoin. That feeling stuck with us throughout the weekend. The Jack Mallers capstone of the conference perfectly demonstrated what we were feeling as he announced El Salvador adopting bitcoin as legal tender. From here on out, bitcoin is mainstream.
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