NFT NYC 2022 Recap: ApeFest, Doodles, Cooltopia, and more
It seems like only a moment ago I was at my first NFT NYC, back in November 2021 — but last week we all reunited with our NFT friends in the big apple at NFT NYC 2022. Too hot this time for our standard-issue black hoodies, we sported short-sleeve merch, shorts, or light dresses while buzzing from event to event.
The timing for this week’s conference could not have been worse— cryptocurrency is in the heart of a bear market. Ethereum was around $1,200 the week of NFT NYC this year, a far cry from around $4,500 at the 2021 event. Crypto and NFTs currently mirror a tough economy all around, as the United States and other nations flirt with recession.
We may have been down bad in price, but during all the festivities, we were up to no good. Even in a bear market, NFT builders and collectors came from across the world to meet at NFT NYC.
NFT NYC Event Recaps
I did not attend the actual NFT NYC conference this year. Last year, I ended up going to only one short event, so I didn’t buy a (quite expensive) ticket this time. There were over a thousand of speakers at NFT.NYC, but the talk of the week was all about the surrounding events.
There were tons of fun events I missed, including Moonbirds (which featured Tame Impala), World of Women (which featured Madonna), Jenkins the Valet, the Doodles keynote (where Doodles 2 was announced) and more. But below are some of the ones I did attend.
Ghxsts Holders NFT NYC Event
One of the smaller events I went to was a holders-only event for Ghxsts, the amazing collection by GxngYxng. The venue had spectacular views and I was able to meet a ton of people from the Ghxsts community. There were free Ghxst stickers and pins for attendees, plus an open bar and never-ending small plates.
This was the first time Ghxsts held an event at NFT NYC outside of their Metacitizen exhibition in 2021, and it was fantastic.
Eternal.gg & BALLERZ Party
Eternal.gg and BALLERZ communities held an event at a nightclub, which was reserved just for party-goers from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. The event was free for anyone who RSVP’d in the days prior, sponsored by Eternal.gg and BALLER, the basketball-focused PFP project on Flow. Whenever we thought about leaving, the music that the DJ was playing just got better and better — so we didn’t.
And at around 2:30 a.m., Sean Kingston came on to perform some of his greatest hits, even singing “Beautiful Girls” with the crowd. This night was my latest night out, but it was worth it.
Gutter Cat Gang’s Gutter City
The Gutter Cat Gang was out in full force during NFT NYC. They had a block party with exclusive merch, appearances at the PUMA flagship store on Fifth Avenue, and an evening party on Thursday night. I checked out all three, and the strength of Gutter Cat Gang’s partnerships and community was very clear by the popularity of these events.
At their evening Gutter City even, there was a tattoo shop with simple Gutter Cat flash designs and free PUMA shoes for holders who showed up early. Since I got there late after ApeFest, I got free pizza and Gutter socks, which I mean — what more can you ask for?
Cooltopia by Cool Cats
Cool Cats NFT created Cooltopia, a two-day interactive experience for both holders and the general public. It was one of the most marketed events, with digital billboards all over town, and a giant blue bus with a Cool Cats wrap on it.
While Cool Cats also had an evening event for holders only, their strategy of opening up Cooltopia to the general public helped make more people aware of NFTs and how fun they can be. While public had a longer line, Cool Cats and Pets holders got express access to the Cooltopia experience.
The activations around Cooltopia were powered by cute cat wristbands which you got upon entry. By scanning these wristbands at the various treasure chest points around the event, attendees earned MILK points to spend on merch, food, or drinks. When I was there, I saw not just NFT collectors, but families and children enjoying the games and challenges. Some of Clon’s original “blue cat” sketches were also on display, being fractionalized by Rally.
Many on NFT Twitter raved about the event as an example of how to be more inclusive to all people — not just holders — while holding an NFT event.
This wonderful party was hosted by a bunch of NFT projects by powerful women in Web3 — including Juicebox Frens, Kiki, Cryptoys, and Evaluate Market — and they had endless swag to hand out to their attendees. Although the beginning was packed inside due to rain, eventually the weather improved and more people were able to enjoy outside.
We had great drinks and pizza at the venue, Freehold in the Park at Unions Square. Fun fact: Shake from Netflix’s Love is Blind made an appearance!
Doodles Genesis Factory Mint
The Doodles Genesis Factory mint was an unexpected driveby for me. I had friends who were waiting in the endless line on Thursday, so I went to down to say hi and see what was up. Turns out, I met a few other friendly faces in line. People waited hours to pre-order their Genesis box (4,000 total available) inside for $123, many of them who had waited in a different line to pick up their badge to be able to mint.
I joined up with my friends and some people nearby had extra mint passes. We decided to bite the bullet and wait the few hours to get in to mint. I believe the minting machines were broken when I went, since we worked with employees on mobile phones to mint.
It would be better if they had just moved down the line with iPads for people to mint, to keep the line moving — but in any case, I got a Genesis box, now selling for .5 ETH after public mint, and met some good people.
Azuki’s Enter the Alley
Azuki held both evening and daytime events over multiple days. I wasn’t able to attend the evening experience, but the daytime one was amazing. The “Enter the Alley” event turned an area at Chelsea Piers into a lifelike alley, with a pawn shop, candy room and other fun things to see.
Outside, endless stalls of boba, dumplings, shaved snow and more. Finally, the incredible drums performance and video at the end. We left with posters, lighters, stuffed Beanz, and a full stomach.
ApeFest — Bored Apes at NFT NYC
One of the most anticipated events of the week was ApeFest from Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the most popular NFT collections. They had ape and mutant holders rank preferences of days they would attend, and gave access via Tokenproof. Many used the switch date and waitlist feature, and from what I heard it worked out pretty well.
My ApeFest nights were Tuesday and Thursday, and I went to the majority of both days. I had heard that Monday was tough, with long lines everywhere and a rumored missing headline performer. Even though it was pouring rain on Tuesday, we braved it to check out Pier 17.
Haim was on when we got there, and they were really having fun with the crowd. Timbaland came out and I thought he might perform, but instead debuted a not-ready-for-prime-time music video starring his apes. After a break, Lil Baby came on to end the star-studded evening.
The organization and entry with Tokenproof went seamlessly, and they handed out ponchos once we got to the event. Drink lines — for open bar — moved swiftly as they probably learned from the madness on Monday night. The area at Pier 17 was covered with videos of scrolling apes as you wandered up the maze of escalators into the rooftop.
The merch store was a minimalistic gallery of expensive ApeFest merch, but it was well-organized and had a queue set up for buying.
Thursday night was rumored to be the biggest and best night of ApeFest. It was way more packed than Tuesday night, but the weather was also fantastic. It never got too crowded, though, so it was easy to find people and stay together.
Spottie WiFi — the CryptoPunk rapper — started out the night and absolutely killed it as usual. Rap legend Lil Wayne was next, and performed selections from so many of his hits. It was the first time I had seen Wayne live and he was an incredible performer — the crowd loved it. He even rapped some popular throwbacks from “back in my day” (not to age myself).
Snoop Dogg later came out with Eminem and debuted a new song and music video, which featured Bored Apes. The community response was overwhelming and the song was actually great. This was probably the time at ApeFest with the most energy from the crowd.
We all thought that maybe Eminem would come back out and perform, but Snoop instead continued with a solid DJ set. During it, a semi-creepy “mascot” dressed as Snoop’s ape danced around stage next to an exotic dancer. At least it was a good ape mask, though.
We saw some wild ones during the few days at ApeFest. Kind of wild that NFT NYC and ApeFest brought in these type of top-tier headlining acts for four nights straight.
NFT NYC 2022Trends
One thing that was distinctive from last year was the trend of smaller, more intimate events, many during the day. These allow collectors to get to know each other better without shouting over each other.
The Ghxsts Holder event was one of the smaller ones I attended, but Pixel Vault did something very cool with several smaller events. The ladies of Moonbirds had a Ladybirds brunch to connect with the women in the community. Tezos NFT platform fxHash even had a tiny event that had to move to a larger venue once word got out.
Apps like Tokenproof powered the tickets for many events, including ApeFest, World of Women, Gutter Cat Gang, Moonbirds and more. This method of proving NFT ownership without having to use your MetaMask mobile wallet is a much-improved way of token-gating events. In my experience, it worked flawlessly.
Custom NFT Swag
We also saw a huge influx of custom stickers, pins, and merch for NFTs. Near the Genesis Doodles Factory, a massive sticker wall of Doodle NFT stickers appeared. At ApeFest, those going through the merch line stuck their apes on a wall and other spots throughout the festival. Collectors wore stickers with their Twitter handles on them so they could be identified more easily by fellow collectors.
TL;DR NFT NYC 2022
Last NFT NYC was the catalyst for me deciding to move full time into working in Web3. I feel grateful that I am still able to do that, even during a difficult market. But the mood for the week was still high, and the community seemed as optimistic as ever.
Things I improved from last time:
- Ate actual food instead of grabbing street food between sprinting to events.
- Prioritized attending one or two events per day instead of running around like crazy.
- Stayed an extra three days to decompress and enjoy the city.
- Wore more comfortable shoes.
Pro tips for next time:
- Don’t stay in Times Square. Just don’t.
- Take the subway more than Uber— it’s easier and faster.
- Pack lighter (I know this will never happen but it’s nice to dream).
- Oh, and don’t get Covid-19. Turns out it’s not a super fun souvenir.
See you all next year at NFT NYC!