Wow. Cyber capitalism fetishized to the point of apotheosis.
It’s only my first day, but it’s clear this is not the Burning Man-style celebration of the liberatory potential of decentralization I was promised. This is a locked-room, hard-sell pitch session to a literally captive audience of high-roller crypto investors, whose only escape is the lifeboats. The whole place smells of aftershave and insecurity. But if you want to know how power actually operates in any community, watch the women.
Of the 400-plus passengers, many—I’d guess at least 150—are “hostesses” from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and many are offering services unspecified. Most blockchain events have a gender balance problem. The cruise organizers have allowed the decentralized free-market to solve that problem the best way it knows how. Not enough women? Just hire some. Not as actual employees of your company, god no. To stand around looking delicious and fascinated. What else are women for? [Ed: CoinsBank, which also offered rooms for “18+ only” ladies, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.] The sea-swell swaying hallways are full of moody Eastern European teenagers in impractical heels. “We’re here as…as help,” one of them tells me in the elevator. She doesn’t look up from her phone. That evening, one guest tells me that male attendees are having room numbers discreetly sent to them on Telegram—the social network of choice, I learn, for pump-and-dump crypto schemers.