- I went to an after-hours cryptocurrency party at a burlesque club attended by those visiting New York for a massive blockchain conference called Consensus.
- It was wild.
At 2 a.m. on Thursday, a crowd of people, mostly men, are lined up outside an exclusive burlesque nightclub, The Box, in downtown Manhattan.
“Who are all these people?” A dancer in spiky gold stilettos asks a security guard.
“There’s some sort of cryptocurrency conference in town,” he tells her.
“What the hell is cryptocurrency?”
“Like bitcoin and stuff,” he says.
The group in question have just disembarked from a cruise ship, the Cornucopia Majesty, where a pair of Aston Martins were awarded to two guests through a process of random selection. Glowing bracelets were distributed at the start of the cruise, and the two people lucky enough to receive the bracelets that glowed the longest were gifted the sports cars.
The crowd is visiting the city to attend Consensus, the sprawling blockchain conference that has attracted nearly 8,500 people.
Inside the club, where photos aren’t allowed, women in corseted lingerie deliver bottles of vodka and champagne to tables of reclining men in suits, amid a fanfare of sparklers. Onstage, two naked women simulate fellatio as the crowd roars in approval. At one point, one of the women eats something seemingly designed to look like feces from the other’s rear. A half-naked man wearing an enormous bear head gyrates against a woman whose breasts are ensconced in two clear plastic Madonna-style triangles. Bags of cocaine are passed underhand.
“If I offer you coke, do you promise not to write about it?” A woman asks.
The creator of an influential cryptocurrency who goes by the nickname “Fluffy Pony” explains the power of decentralized technology as a woman in a G-string undulates on the bar-top beside us.
The mood is celebratory. Many of the people in attendance have gotten rich in the last decade through a technology often derided by the public. For many of them, the media’s newfound captivation with cryptocurrencies is a form of a validation: It is satisfying to be right.
As one man in attendance puts it, “Getting rich on crypto is something that most of us never expected. We weren’t in it for the money. It’s like, what do you do when you suddenly have a bunch of money that you never even thought you would have?”
For some, the answer to this question lies in an MDMA-fueled night of bottle service and entertainment at an exclusive adult club.
But for others, the money is a windfall to be spent on technologies that they believe will transform not only the internet, but the underpinnings of society itself.
Around 3am, a nerdcore rapper who goes by the name YTCracker takes to the stage to perform two cryptocurrency themed rap songs: Bitcoin Baron and Crypto Illuminati. He flew in to New York expressly to perform at this event.
“Told you to snap up a modest position
of currency minted from factoring digits
which of you listened?
which of you listened?”
In the red velvet booths below, his listeners raise glasses of champagne.
“Blockchain is going to change the world, man,” a man tells me, exuberant. “This is only the beginning.”