On social media, guests who flew to Miami from around the world griped about unacceptably long lines outside the convention center, where cryptocurrency experts, industry leaders, and internet celebrities are gathering for the two-day conference.
Some attendees, including entrepreneur Armando Pantoja, lamented that the event seemed to be mismanaged, comparing the conference to the infamous Fyre Festival, for which guests paid thousands of dollars for a destination concert in the Bahamas, only to be left sleeping outside without food, entertainment, or accommodations.
Tickets to the Bitcoin conference ranged from $400 to upward of $1,000, and event organizers expected more than 50,000 guests, according to a Fox Business report.
SmallBlocker2021: high fees and long wait times to get into the door!— Kurt in Miami???? Bcore2021???????? (@kurtwuckertjr) June 4, 2021
Imagine getting in only to hear speeches about the value of congestion from a bunch of MasterCard employees ????????#bitcoinfyrefestival #bitcoin2021 pic.twitter.com/MywH7isyiY
Attendees reported wait times of over an hour to enter the venue this morning, as lines stretched for several blocks around the Wynwood Art District.
"It was too full, and the Miami heat didn't help," one attendee told New Times, referring to the weather, not the basketball team. "I didn't get to see the main speakers."
Others also reported missing speakers because of the long lines and complained that the event had been oversold, saying organizers had not properly prepared for the number of people who planned to attend.
Some who did make it inside for the morning's slate of speakers griped about a lack of adequate seating. One person claimed they paid $900 for a ticket, only to find that the only available space to sit was on the floor.
This thing is oversold AF ????— Dr Bitcoin MD (@DrBitcoinMD) June 4, 2021
My $900 seat on the floor at the #BitcoinConference after waiting in line for 1 hr 45 min #bitcoinconferencescam #bitcoin #Bitcoin2021 #Bitcoin2021 #BitcoinConference #BitcoinMiami2021 pic.twitter.com/BXnPfk3KQ6— Taylor Schon (@Tayzlor) June 4, 2021
A spokesperson for Miami Fire Rescue told New Times some guests had to be moved out of the aisles and standing areas once the main room reached capacity. Two minor medical calls were reported.
Brutal. Even the people inside are getting kicked out right now because there’s not enough seating and the fire dept won’t let people stand in aisles.— Michael Tomkins (@m_tmkns) June 4, 2021
By lunchtime, the lines had dwindled and any disarray at the conference had died down. Several attendees interviewed by New Times outside the venue said the event was a success aside from the long lines and that they didn't feel they'd been scammed in any way.
Those who made it into the conference on time enjoyed hearing from celebrity speakers like presidential candidate-turned Bitcoin activist Ron Paul, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and erstwhile professional boxer Floyd Mayweather.
"It was very informative and enlightening. You got to learn from speakers about things you've heard of but didn't know about, like NFTs," said attendee Simeon Rice.
Vendors working the event say the long lines were emblematic of the widespread interest in cryptocurrency.
"Thousands of people waiting for two hours in 80-degree weather for Bitcoin — that's a signal," said an employee of the Bitcoin financial services company Unchained Capital who declined to give their name.
Many others declined to give their names to New Times because, as one person put it, "Bitcoin people are very privacy-focused."
One such attendee, who identified himself as "G2," said the event organizers should have planned better for accommodating long lines but the conference was otherwise worth the money.
"The line was shitty — everyone was like, 'What the fuck?' One hour to get into an event is unacceptable. But it was an amazing conference," G2 said.