NFT NYC 2021 Recap: When NFT Twitter Becomes IRL
by Corporate Trash
When I first joined NBA Top Shot in January 2021, I never dreamed that choice would have led me deep into the NFT world. All of the people that I spent hours talking to on Discord and Twitter became an increasingly bigger part of my life.
Since many people are anonymous online and go under a pseudonym, you aren’t quite sure what they look like or what their demeanor is. Being behind a screen can allow us to be somebody completely different, should we so choose. But I felt strongly that I somehow “knew” these people, after spending months getting to know them on social media.
NFT NYC 2021 was the perfect opportunity to meet NFT community members face-to-face, so the minute that conference tickets went on sale, I got one for $299.
Little did I know that I would barely attend the actual conference at all. It turns out that the real utility was the one-on-one conversations I had with the NFT community members at parties and in lines throughout the week. Here’s my journey through my first NFT NYC event.
Halloween: The Bored Ape Yacht Queue
Ever since Ape Fest was announced on BAYC Roadmap 2.0, everyone with an ape or mutant had been buzzing about the Yacht Party event. It was really the first time that a large NFT community got together in the spirit of the NFT: the Bored Ape Yacht Club, on a literal yacht.
With only 1,000 yellow wristbands available for a community of over 10,000 Apes and Mutant Apes, the queue began near Bright Moments at 8 a.m. for doors to open around noon. The only way to get on the yacht was to pick up a wristband in-person.
I helped check people in and put wristbands on at the gallery, and the excitement was palpable. Some audibly cheered, jumping in the air after securing the wristband. People walked in the door with a giant grin, knowing they were gonna make it. Vibes were high, and some already had their ape costumes on.
But the most surprising thing for me was who I put wristbands on. While many people seemed like original minters or us typical NFT degens, I definitely touched the wrist of some extremely wealthy people. Some walked in with fur coats (must be a New York thing), some with a Rolex on their wrist, and some with diamonds so bright I could barely tighten the wristband without being blinded.
It dawned on me: people are really now buying into this exclusive club — at $150,000 or more.
The Bored Ape Yacht Party
It was pretty surreal — as we walked on Pier 40, some helpful people said “the Ape party is this way,” leading us to board the boat. After a short queue, we got aboard a four-level yacht with enough open bars to handle the 2,000 attendees. The yacht looked familiar; BAYC previously held a casino boat party in Decentraland with a similar layout and feel, which was pretty remarkable.
People were wearing variations of ape Halloween costumes — from a simple BAYC hoodie, all the way to custom rubber masks of their apes (which terrified me). Many went all out to customize their outfits to match their beloved apes.
Me? I painted a DMT eye on my neck, put on a red sweatshirt and a halo. It was at least a little bit of an effort, but the DMT eye became a giant blur within a few hours of dancing.
The rooftop had incredible views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. The dance floor was going all night, and at the end there was a surprise DJ set from LCD Soundsystem legend James Murphy. It just goes to show: you never know who’s going to appear at a Bored Ape Yacht Club Party. That trend continued on Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Steel Warehouse party.
Monday, November 1: All about Basketball (and Ghxsts)
I woke up in a daze on Monday morning and took a long walk down to the NFTBA event at Chelsea Piers. We had a three-point contest (I made one, can you believe it?), and I watched as other NFT community members played pickup games. It was a great way to get back out into the world after a long night on the yacht, and also connect with some new people I had never met — a trend throughout the week.
The big events on Monday were the Ghxsts gallery and the NBA Top Shot happy hour. Because we had tickets to the Knicks, I opted to stay down near the stadium and go to the Ghxsts event instead of the Top Shot one.
The Ghxsts event was small but surreal. Ever since GxngYxng launched his 1/1 NFTs for 0.01 Ethereum, his art has been legendary within the community. There was a short film that showed his art and his story, and some Gxs Pxin pins even got handed out to a few. I wandered the gallery and found some friends, got some lunch with them, and then headed near Madison Square Garden to meet up with some other people in the NFT community before the game.
While I didn’t attend the Top Shot Happy Hour, those who did said it was a blast. Quavo and Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou put on a show, and thousands of collectors got to meet in person. Nick Young even attended and talked about the future of meme Moments on Top Shot. There was a whole group of people who went to the Knicks-Raptors game from there as well.
I’ll say it: Madison Square Garden is the best arena I’ve ever been to. The energy was electric, and even though the Knicks lost, not many of us seemed to care (sorry Knicks fans).
One of the best parts about the week was that you would just run into other people in NFT merch and end up hanging out with them. After the game, everyone went their separate ways off into the NYC night. Oh, and did you know that bars close at 4 a.m. in NYC? It’s truly the city that never sleeps.
Tuesday: The Parties Multiply
I finally decided to get my NFT NYC conference badge on Tuesday, so I headed out to Times Square in search of my credentials. I then wandered over to Bryant Park for a little hot cider and donut situation, enjoying the wintery vibe. I attended Josh Ong’s NFT NYC presentation — which is the only one I actually went to all week.
Wednesday: The Night of 100 Parties
After a late night, I slept in pretty late on Wednesday. However, I was super excited to live my New York local fantasy this day by getting a bagel, a black-and-white cookie, and seeing a matinee of Hamilton. Of course, my ape came along with me.
I laughed, I cried, I sang along silently under my mask. But afterwards, there were decisions to make about what party to go to first. And I was not throwing away my shot.
I met up with some of my MomentRanks co-workers for the first time in real life, and we headed out to the Gutter Cat Gang x RSOP x Metaverse HQ party next. This one was really cool, on a rooftop, and was well-attended with tons of familiar faces in the space.
I then went over to the House of Kibaa event, where I met one of the co-founders and some other people I’ve known since day one in NFTs. Free merch, drinks, hors d’oeuvres in an upscale setting. It was really amazing to meet new faces in person!
Of course, the major event that night was the BAYC Warehouse Party at Brooklyn Steel. This party featured The Strokes, Lil Baby, Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, Questlove, and Beck. The warehouse was transformed into an island-themed celebration for 2,000 people, and BAYC provided limited edition Ape Fest posters with bright yellow bananas on them to attendees. I managed to keep mine in decent condition all the way back to LA.
This party really solidified the fact that BAYC is becoming a streetwear and lifestyle brand. In addition, the merch pop-ups during the week commanded a huge line and massive attention. It’s official: BAYC is really just getting started.
Thursday: My Last Day at NFT NYC
On Thursday, once we all pieced our lives together, we decided to go on a little Central Park stroll to see the fall colors and sit on the Met steps a-la Gossip Girl. It was one of the few times we had time to stop and breathe this week, as we had all been going from party to party, event to event.
After this, I had to run quickly across town. I (super luckily) got invited to a dinner with some incredible people in the NFT space. It was one of the few times that I went to a smaller gathering, which enabled closer connections. Afterwards, we headed down to the Hoodlums party in Tribeca, which took place in a small basement in a bar. Again, a really cool smaller environment to hang with people. I wish there were more of these.
The night ended with me reuniting with my main group at one of their hotels, having an impromptu dance party and pizza as I actively fought falling asleep, not wanting the final night to end. Goodbyes were said, and some tears were shed.
Wrapping my first NFT NYC
As an extrovert who gets energy interacting with and being around other people, this week was incredible for me. I spent nearly every minute connecting with my friends in the NFT space, and got to know many other people that I’ve spent months talking to online.
I left the week more excited than ever to dive head-first into NFTs, DeFi, the Metaverse, and Web3. Many conversations about NFTs that I had would be impossible to have with people in my everyday life. It was powerful being in one place where everyone gets it, and everyone understands.
I was especially pleased to meet so many women NFT collectors, as we are few and far between. Their enthusiasm about the space was contagious, and I really hope we see even more women attending as collectors and speakers next year.
So thanks, NFT NYC. And thanks, NBA Top Shot, for getting me involved in this craziness in the first place. I’ll never forget the memories I made this week, and I can’t wait for the next one.
…Miami for Art Basel anyone? Too soon?