On a crisp June evening, a small group gathered in front of a fountain at Grand Park in downtown LA. Scattered amongst them were laptops, cellphones, and cookies formed into a peculiar B symbol. This was the setting for Los Angeles’s first open air bitcoin exchange: Satoshi Square LA.
Organized by Spelunk.in, this event was modeled after Satoshi Square in NY. With the help of Josh Rossi, a special west coast instance of his Project Buttonwood app helped track the trades. Over the next couple hours, the group swelled to over 35, and included both experienced traders and novices.
“Trading volumes were low but the crowd embraced what we were doing,” said Craig Welty, aka Dusty. “It felt like an historical event so I felt I had to get on the trading ledger at least once.”
The first trade was within 10 mins of start, between Joe and Steve. They traded 1BTC for 112. Many of the trades hovered around market value.
About 8 trades were recorded, with many of them being under 1BTC. In total, about 4.33 btc exchanged hands.
“Doing a transaction in person and being able to talk to someone while going through a transaction also made it seem less abstract, more tied into feeling like an actual exchange was occurring,” said Michael Lim after he purchased his first bitcoin at the event. “Seeing how simple the actual transaction process is made it less intimidating.”
Halfway through the event, some of the Satoshi Square NY traders who had met up earlier that day were interested in doing a transcontinental trade, just to be the first to do it. Webjoe went for it, selling $20 of bitcoin to Kirill in NY.
Like NY’s exchange, Los Angeles also opted for a park setting, using the brand-new Grand Park. A Starbucks was there in case wifi was needed, and the park felt very safe, secure, and clean. “The location was great The backdrop of the fountain on one side and the historic LA City Hall on the other made the event seem that much more special,” added Craig.
The attendees are really what made the event stand out. They spanned across a spectrum of age, race, and gender, and generally were bright and fascinating people to chat with. While many experienced traders and miners were in attendance, probably a third or half had never bought a bitcoin, and were there to learn about them. A family on vacation from Dallas came by; their 16yr old son heard about the event on reddit and wanted to trade. A podcaster from “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” was there. Even Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus made an appearance.
The event also featured bitcoin-shaped cookies and vinyl stickers from Spelunk.in, and addresses were collected for gogocoin to send btc gifts to. “The btc cookies were delicious and tasted like freedom,” said Michael.
[slickr-flickr set="72157634118347414" tag="spelunk01" direction="ascending" sort="date" align="center"]