Why do Russian apartment blocks have SO MANY pink windows? (PHOTOS)

Russia Beyond (Photo: Guy Ritchie/Miramax, 2019; Unsplash)
Passing by high-rise residential buildings in Russia, you are likely to spot windows lit with a mysterious bright pink light. Some suspect that the light indicates brothels inside, while others joke that residents of those apartments must be growing marijuana at home.

“A couple of years ago, I was walking around Moscow late in the evening and noticed that practically every apartment block had at least one window glowing with a pinkish-violet light. I found it very intriguing and somewhat uplifting. Even if the purpose of this light is purely functional, still I like finding these windows and looking at them,” says a resident of Moscow, Lyubov Yermolayeva.

It was then that Lyubov set up a small community on the VK social network called ‘Pink Windows’, where users from different Russian cities can post pictures of windows with pink light.

VK and Instagram have dozens of similar small communities devoted to windows. Russian social media users, too, have begun to wonder what this pink light is all about.   

“I wonder what is happening behind those pink windows. Are they growing something there? Developing film? Dancing to minimal techno? Why is the light pink? Why is it so bright???” asks St. Petersburg resident Olga on Instagram. 

“In the apartment block across the street, there is fun everywhere. On one of the top floors, there are disco lights and right across from me, an intimate pink light,” writes a Twitter user. 

Social media users have put forward different light-hearted theories as to the purpose of the bright pink light.

“There is a strange window in the apartment block. A pink light… Are there aliens among us? Or an open portal?” Twitter user ‘Oprichnik’ wonders.

Others suggest that behind these windows, women offer sexual services for money and use the pink light to attract customers.

“I still cannot forget it how a local carpenter at the academy, who often hung around students, approached me once and, with a mysterious air and carefully choosing his words, asked: ‘Excuse me, but I have been wondering: does this pink light in windows at night indicate a house of ill repute (another name for a brothel)?” Twitter user ‘Anarkhiopterix’ writes

An anonymous Instagram user has even set up an account called ‘Windows of Taganrog’ with pictures of pink light coming out of said windows. Its bio says that Russians switch on pink light when they have sex.

“I have just developed one of the popular theories about these windows with pink light to a full-fledged account, but I am still not sure what happens behind these windows. I think this theory may well turn out to be right,” says the owner of the account.

In the meantime, other users are convinced that the windows in question hide marijuana plantations and compare residents of those apartments to characters in Guy Ritchie’s movie The Gentlemen.

“Every time I take a walk, I see these windows with a pink light.”

Neither of these theories are true, however. An increasing number of Russians have simply grown a green thumb and taken up the hobby of growing plants and vegetables inside their apartments: some grow tomatoes, dill and parsley, while others prefer to see flowers on their windowsills. The pink light is produced by special phyto lamps for seedlings and is used mostly in winter when short daylight is not enough for plants to grow properly.  

From the inside, the set-up often looks like this:

Ksenia from the town of Krasnoznamensk in Moscow Region sets up the special lamps for growing orchids in the fall and winter and jokingly refers to her small botanic garden as an ‘orchibrothel’.

“In 2001, I moved from a southern city by the sea to the cold and unfamiliar Moscow Region. I left all my friends behind and I felt very lonely, so I took up growing plants as a hobby. I learned to love them and I felt feedback from them. I watered them and looked after them and in exchange they filled me with their energy. Since then, I see plants as my children. My neighbors have never complained about the pink light in my windows, though they may be gossiping about it behind my back,” says Ksenia.

Phyto lamps are particularly common in regions that have extremely cold winters and the polar night, Olga, who lives in the city of Novy Urengoy in Yamal, is convinced.

“Almost every apartment block in our city has three or four pink windows. People just miss the sun. And it does not necessarily have anything to do with growing seedlings: many have pot flowers just to have something that reminds them of summer,” Olga says.

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