Inside the Bitcoin Frat House That Descended on ETHDenver

Bitcoin Ordinals (and their fans) are gaining ground on Ethereum’s culture lead

By: André Beganski

March 6, 2024

The developer had a simple explanation for his last-minute hairdo.

“It’s an orange party, and I needed to go all the way,” he said, pointing to his head of freshly dyed, carrot colored hair — one of many preparations he made ahead of ORD_Denver’s party on Friday.

“It’s a group effort, but it’s not like anyone’s on salary,” he said of the weeks-long ordeal. “We’re all just contributing, so it’s been interesting to say the least. I finally got some sleep last night.”

Presented by Omnisat, Asigna, and OnChainMonkey, a Bitcoin-themed house party attracted dozens of people to a Georgian-style mansion in downtown Denver, Colorado. Serving as a luxury rental and part-time butler school, the residence is known as the Starkey Mansion. So, there may have been champagne but also a few orange Solo cups.

The Starkey Mansion in downtown Denver, Colorado. Image: André Beganski / Coinage
The Starkey Mansion in downtown Denver, Colorado. Image: André Beganski / Coinage

Many of the event’s attendees had an interest in Ordinals, a protocol launched last year that allows for the creation of NFT-like assets on Bitcoin known as Inscriptions. Among the partygoers Friday were a few of ETHDenver’s 20,000 odd attendees, but also one individual who had little knowledge of Ordinals, aside from what he had heard from a friend.

“Prior to Ordinals coming out, I used to think that Bitcoin was just [a] Boomer chain,” he said, clad in an orange hoodie and hat. “My buddy is basically trying to orange-pill me, and he told me to come out here and meet the community because, right now, it’s still really small.”

The market for Inscriptions may be nascent after a year and change, but Ordinals has created a buzzy market for Bitcoin-based art. Over the past six months, for example, Ethereum NFTs have accounted for 55% of total NFT trading volume as Bitcoin-based collectibles have represented 30% at $6.6 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively, according to analytics from Tiexo.

“The house kind of gives off the vibes of a frat house,” the aforementioned attendee said, adding that he had attended parties at NFT.NYC before, an annual JPEG conference held in New York. “They’ve got parties [there], and it’s fun, but Bitcoin people are built different.”

During the day, however, ORD_Denver was comparatively timid. There was Red Bull on deck for those that woke up — even if that was well into the afternoon — and a workspace for others to hack away at their projects. When the DJ space wasn’t in use, there was room for people to host podcasts too. Overall, the aforementioned developer, who helped set up the event on Omnisat’s behalf, described ORD_Denver as Bitcoiners’ home base.

At Ethereum-adjacent events, it’s not uncommon to see NFT art imaged on a wall. Maybe it’s a series of screens displaying NFTs from a popular profile picture collection — picture some Bored Apes. At ORD_Denver, those familiar fixtures are Bitcoin-based instead, such as art from the collection Ordinal Miners: A man in a cowboy hat. The Bitcoin logo. Some mountains.

For several artists at ORD_Denver, the culture surrounding Ordinals presents fresh prospects. Instead of feeling like he needs to promote one blockchain over another, one artist described Ordinals’ art community as a melting pot of creators that emerged out of the recent bear market.

“The biggest thing about being an artist on Bitcoin right now is that I feel like I don’t have to shill the coin that I had my art on before,” he said. “Everyone knows Bitcoin. You either have it or you don’t, and you can buy it or not — I could care less — I don’t feel like a shill for the coin.”


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