My ‘Peak Fiat’ Bitcoin2022 Miami Retrospective -Gonzo-Style

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Approaching the number of crypto conferences I can comfortably count within the last 6 months, I’ve seen a huge array of products, vendors, imaginary projects, and made a tremendous amount of connections.

This was my first 2nd opportunity working at a bitcoin conference, however quite different from the first. I had considered attending Bitcoin 2022. When my friend Klara Lima (Known professionally as Kitana Savage) gave me the inside line to work on the production crew for Bitcoin 2022, saying I could get paid to attend instead of paying, I jumped. 

It was Saturday April 2nd I arrived to Miami, and stayed at a hostel closeby to the convention center. I had absolutely zero clue what I was getting myself into, and only knew I had to show up at 18th and Washington at 7:45AM to check in over the next 9 days.

There was some initial confusion, as the company I was supposed to be employed by was not directly employing me, but more so I was subcontracted out to a labor firm who was working for the AV Company. Within the Miami Beach Convention center, were hundreds of people working at this time when I arrived on the morning of Sunday, April 3rd.

This was a mix of union labor, locals, and out of state talent. The first order of business was unloading trucks, which was contracted out to a group called pushers. As their job implies, they simply push crates from the loading dock to specific zones within the conference center based on contents. The first task we were set with was building the trusses, these hold the lights, speakers, and video panels.

The act of assembling the trusses and hanging them is called rigging, completed by riggers. The 8ft trusses go together with 4 pins on each end, and are strategically placed below hoist points. The hoist points are hooked up to a chain motor which articulates the movement of each truss in unison through a series of daisy chained wires. Once we had trusses together, we were onto hanging some 700 light fixtures. A mixture of light beams, spotlights, and RGB assortments. The lights are linked through powercon for electricity and DMX cables for data. By the end of the first day, all the trusses had been built, hung and lights were starting to go up. 

There was an overnight crew that came in and built the main nakamoto stage. The start of day 2 was video walls all day long. We worked with 3 different types of panels. Each panel has a large amount of LED lights on it, with each pixel representing one light. These were super cool to install.

I personally hooked up hundreds of these panels, which transfer data through daisy chained ethernet cables between each roughly 18” wide panel. Each row of panels gets its own “home run” or ethernet feed, which goes back to one of 4 controller boards needed to handle all the special effects.

The most intricate video wall panels by far were the curved ones used for stage left and stage right. These feature completely adjustable angles, which can make for trouble installing if they are not quite lined up or the contour is slightly off. By the end of day 2, mostly all the lights were hung, video walls built, and sound equipment hooked up.

At the end of the day, I exercised my media credentials to gain access to the reblock miami unofficial opening party. This included one drink at the new Biscanye bay brewing facility located in downtown. I saw one person I knew from the bitcoin brunch, but since I had an early morning the next day, we departed after about an hour. 

Day 3 of setup wasn’t noteworthy, it was mostly waiting around “on standby” as they say. We finished up the remaining wiring, lighting, sound, and video panels while a VIP area had been erected overnight. All the empty boxes had been moved to the loading dock area so the conference hall and nakamoto stage were completely clear of clutter. Crews worked overnight setting up chairs and finishing touches. There was very little happening in terms of satellite events, however some friends had rolled into town, so we met for a drink.

Let the show begin – The first official conference day at Bitcoin Miami

Kevin O'leary speaks to Roundtable at Bitcoin 2022
Kevin O’leary speaks to Roundtable at Bitcoin 2022

Day 4, or industry day, the first official day of the conference. I started the morning of day 2 of Bitcoin Unleashed at Faena. I’m not sure if people had enough on day one, were utilizing their industry day passes, or if people were still sleeping. The amount of attendees at Bitcoin Unleashed was a rather small number, and a call from a friend at Bitcoin 2022 had me leaving shortly after the talks started in the morning. 

After meeting at Bitcoin 2022, we made our way to the food trucks in Brickell for a small, but cheerful lunch with about 10 other bitcoiners. Making our way back to Miami beach, I visited the 1 year metaverse party, where I ran into friends from Budbo, whom promptly shared some of their secret stash with me, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If there is one blockchain project I can fully get behind besides bitcoin, it is green, sticky, and dank. As evening neared, a group of us met up at Freehold, where we were graciously met with an open bar & free pizza courtesy of Ibex and Exodus.

As the night darkened, we took a quick walk upto MAPS Backlot for the Bitcoin 2022 Kickoff party featuring Diplo. We were kindly granted VIP access to the Planet Fashion TV show in the back, a group I am familiar with and had attended events of at an earlier bitcoin conference. The drinks were all complimentary, the girls were dolled up, and I ran into many familiar faces. The Diplo concert was awesome, and I ran into a few guys I worked on the production crew of BTC 2022 with, they invited me to their section as well which once again, had complimentary drinks and a great view of the Diplo concert.

Diplo Backstage at MAPS in Wynnwood with Planet Fashion TV
Diplo Backstage at MAPS in Wynnwood with Planet Fashion TV

Thursday April 7th we started off at the Miami Beach Convention center for the early part of the day. By early afternoon, I was off to another Planet Fashion TV event for their Luxury Superyacht Networker at Bayside Marketplace. Travis and Trang were incredibly welcoming, and I entered on the boat, greeted by many familiar models. There was loud music, exotic outfits, little morsels served on a silver platter, and all the tequila you could imagine.

There were 2 panels by industry experts during the event, which concluded with a rooftop of the yacht fashion show. I luckily picked a seat near the stairwell, as it started downpouring shortly after starting and we had to return back indoors to finish the show. After all that excitement, I severely needed a nap. I unfortunately slept through the ANKR Bitcoin Mansion party.

Planet Fashion TV Superyacht Party at Bayside Marketplace
Planet Fashion TV Superyacht Party at Bayside Marketplace

By day 6, I was ready to spend some serious time inside Bitcoin 2022 and used nearly the entire day to visit vendor booths, see new technology, and learn about the recurring themes & companies that were attending bitcoin 2022. It seemed that more prevalent than anything was increasing mining efficiency through cooling, heat transfer, and green energy.

At 5 PM, we hosted the Bitcoin News Media Happy Hour, which was well attended by 30 of our team, friends, fans and industry colleagues such as the relentless Luke Rudowski.

At 8PM, we made our way to the Versace Mansion, but the line was around the block and the fire marshall quickly shut down the event before anyone could gain entrance. Luckily Celsius had an event right up the street which included free food and an open bar. 

Saturday the 7th or April, 8am…

JP Sears interview at Bitcoin 2022a
JP Sears being interviewed at Bitcoin 2022

On day 7, Saturday, Sound Money Fest was in full swing. I had originally been told I would need to work at the conference this day, and showed up at 8AM only to be told it was a mistake and I had the day off.

I took this opportunity to continue exploring the conference, and enjoy shows from killer mike, big boi, logic, and deadmaus. In the evening, I met a group of ladies with incredible energy, one of which bestowed upon me an unused whale pass.

I was so ecstatic with my new found freedom. I wanted to have the complete whale experience! I was slightly let down however since none of my friends had a whale pass, the best I could do was grab them a free drink or a cheeseburger. Unfortunately they could not join me in the whale only perks such as riding golf carts, taking shuttle buses, or the whale only viewing deck.

One of many Franck Muller Encrypto watches on sale at Bitcoin 2022, featuring a scanable public key for payment
One of many Franck Muller Encrypto watches on sale at Bitcoin 2022, featuring a scanable public key for payment.

On the 10th, the start of day 8, I showed back up to the miami beach convention center for loadout day. The crews had been working overnight on the conference side, taking out the carpeting and whatever else they could. I was amazed how quickly we moved. I was put on special assignments, mostly delicate tasks such as tracing fiber lines, disconnecting ethernet cables so trusses could be lowered, and wrapping up any sort of data feeds. We ended up taking down everything in a day and the overnight crew finished up the remaining touches. 

On the 11th, I showed up once again at 8AM only to be told I wasn’t actually needed that day. Unhappily already awake since 6, I was allowed to stay on as another member had not shown up and I took their place. This last day is called the push. As I am sure you can imagine, all we do is push boxes around. Mainly the boxes were pushed onto forklifts which then were brought to the loading dock before more hands loaded the boxes in the truck. We did quite a bit of box stacking, mostly waiting around for trucks to pull in, and for the forklifts to circle back to us.

I have to say, these certified forklift operators run on their own rules. They take breaks early, come back late, and only operate in the way they want. As the day wound down, a crane was brought in to remove the Antminer box. This was really cool to see, as it’s a huge object to move and the flatbed truck had pulled right into the conference room to recover the Antminer box. The last truck was over 3 hours late, so we all got cut at 6 after moving the last of the boxes to the loading dock. 

In terms of swag, there was tons left over, most of it was set to the curb for passersby to take, some may have gone back with the respective companies. Happy workers were rummaging through stalls for last minute goodies. Some of the best swag I got had to include pens, coozies, and fanny packs. The fanny packs are seriously awesome, with a very miami vice color vibe.

Attending 4 or 5 other conferences, I find myself with far too many shirts that I mostly give away to the homeless after wearing once. This time, I feel the amount of shirts was far less and there were much more useful items available. The reflective blue /  pink miami totes were also a huge hit, I plan to gift it to my mother, since she always can use an extra reusable bag.

I think one thing that is still vastly missing is geographically appropriate seasonal onesies. Picture this, complete tracksuits or swimsuits with matching tops, that need to cater to the diverse weather challenges we face in every region. Imagine a tracksuit that zips off to become beach ready. Perfect for those chilly mornings or evenings and also comfortable in the midday heat.

For now, I’m just grateful to have received an unopened Arculus wallet from another conference goer who didn’t want it, since I had not got one. 

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