The Internet is Freaking Out Over Finding the Designer of '90s ‘Jazz’ Cup
Gina Ekiss, of Aurora, Missouri, designed the original artwork with charcoal.
— -- Remember those jazzy wax paper cups with their awesome teal and purple squiggle design?
They were so commonplace — whether at the movie theater, dentist’s office, ice cream shop or roller rink — that they are likely part of everyone's subconscious.
But 23 years after the cups were introduced, we can appreciate this gnarly nostalgic design for what it is: pure throwback perfection.
The retro design, appropriately called “Jazz,” has been immortalized on tons of fun merchandise from T-shirts to sneakers, bicycle helmets and nail art, to name just a few. The creative genius behind the snazzy neon-colored logo, however, remained a mystery for the most part — until now.
Meet Gina Ekiss, the original artist of the masterful design who now lives a quiet life with her family in Aurora, Missouri.
“I’m just still pretty stunned about the whole deal,” Ekiss, 50, told ABC News of her shocking new celebrity status online. “I’m thrilled that it’s still popular.”
It took the serious sleuthing of one local Missouri reporter, Thomas Gounley of the Springfield News-Leader , to track Ekiss down after stumbling across a Reddit page hoping to locate the “graphic designer who made the ‘jazzy 90s’ image that appeared on millions of paper cups.”
“My family and everybody just kind of grew up with the fact that I did it,” she explained of her masterful design. “I did a lot of designs but this one particular seems to have some staying power and now it’s got its own life online.”
Ekiss worked at the Sweetheart Cup Company in Springfield, Missouri, from 1987 to 2002, before the company was bought by Solo and moved their art department to Baltimore. In the first few years she was with the Sweetheart Cup Company, they held a contest to come up with a new design for the mass-produced cups.
“They hired several other outside firms to come up with the designs but didn’t like any of the outside stuff they were receiving,” she recalled. “We had approximately 30 artists here in Springfield and we said, ‘Why can’t we submit some designs?’”
She created three or four designs for the contest and “Jazz” is the one the corporate headquarters ended up choosing.
The original artwork was actually drawn with charcoal, Ekiss explained.
“I’ve still got the original at home,” she said. “I think I probably just had some on hand at my desk and was just messing around and I liked what came out.”
One of the parameters for the contest was that the design could only be one or two colors because they were going to be run at a fast speed on the presses.
“I just did turquoise, or teal, because that’s one of my favorite colors,” said Ekiss. “I wanted another overlapping color that would work well together. I just liked the purple with it and everybody seemed pleased with that.”
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How the Internet Tracked Down the Designer of the Beloved Jazz Paper Cup
Meet Gina, the woman behind the iconic paper cup pattern
This iconic teal and purple design has been gracing the sides of paper cups since the 1990s, as designer Khoi Vinh explains on his blog Subtraction.com . And since its introduction, it has been bulding a steady team of fans. Today, the pattern shows up on cars, t-shirts and pillow cases of enthusiasts. But for a long time, nobody knew the origins of the design.
Three weeks ago, one fan turned to fellow Reddit users to track down what Google could not. The hivemind came through, to some extent: Gina, once a designer at the Sweetheart Cup Company in Springfield in the 1980s and 1990s, had dreamed up the teal and purple brushstrokes of Jazz.
Curious to find out more about Gina, Thomas Gounley for the News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri kept digging . After many calls and emails, he stumbled upon a Tweet claiming the Gina in question was the user’s mother. After messaging the user with no response, he turned to the phone book and tracked Gina to Aurora, Missouri, a few towns over from Springfield. Finally, he found himself at Gina’s doorstep. "She wasn't expecting me to just show up, but invited me in," Gounley writes.
Jazz had been her submission to a 1989 internal company design contest for a new stock image. It appeared on paper plates and cups beginning in the early 1990s. Ekiss left the company in 2002 when the art department transferred to Baltimore. When she left, “she was told by Sweetheart that Jazz was the company’s top-grossing stock design in history," Gounley writes.
Today, it's hard to find the Jazz cup in the wild. The company doesn't make them anymore, and wants to redesign them to be more modern should they release them again. "It just doesn't really fit out there anymore," a representative from the company that now owns the facility where the cups were made told Gounley. But to fans of the Jazz cup, Gina's design is perfect as is.
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Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian . She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News , Nature and others.
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Article by kurt kohlstedt, jazz cups: the snazzy paper tableware pattern that encapsulates early 90s design, kurt kohlstedt.
Imagine a plastic cup and one particular red-wrapped variant will likely come to mind, designed in the 1970s by Robert Leo Hulseman, son of the Solo Cup Company’s founder. In the realm of paper cups, there is a parallel icon — the dynamic “Jazz” pattern is also a classic, but its history and the artist behind it were largely a mystery until recently.
Today, the very 1990s-style teal-and-purple Jazz design can be found on t-shirts, sandals, bumper stickers and other fan-made merchandise. Originally, though, it was applied by the Sweetheart Cup Company to a series of plates, bowls and cups. Sweetheart has since been acquired by Solo, which in turn was acquired by the Dart Container Corporation, adding layers of complexity to the search for the pattern’s origins.
Unsatisfied with the incomplete story, Springfield News-Leader reporter Thomas Gounley began to dig deeper, searching for Gina himself. After failing to find any direct references to her in local news archives, Gounley made a lucky find on Twitter: someone claiming to be the designer’s daughter. From there, he traveled to nearby Aurora to talk with the woman who had, as it turned out, designed the pattern.
Gina Ekiss began working at Sweetheart’s art department in 1987 along with a few dozen other artists. As Ekiss recalls, the company wasn’t thrilled with initial external submissions for a new pattern design, so they turned to their own in-house creatives. There weren’t many limitations, she recalls, but “they needed something that if it misregistered slightly, it wasn’t going to matter.” The design also had to work for a variety of customer types — it was to be sold in stores, used in hospitals and so forth — so it needed a level of generic and universal appeal. She started with charcoal on vellum, then scanned the results.
“I was reluctant to let the computer have too much control,” Ekiss recalls. “I think part of the reason that I came up with a looser design is because I still wanted to feel like my actual hand went into producing it.” Once scanned, color was added and the design was dubbed Jazz. A bold blend of bright colors and brush strokes, the design encapsulates much of what the 90s have since became known for aesthetically.
Gina Ekiss’ son is in college studying design. He sees some injustice in his mother’s story http://t.co/KkIxfn96xJ pic.twitter.com/pYgDtonV04 — Thomas Gounley (@tgounley) July 5, 2015
There were no big bonuses or royalties or celebrations — Ekiss was simply a staff designer who continued to work for a salary at Sweetheart until the early 2000s. When she left the company, Gounley writes that Gina “was told by Sweetheart that Jazz was the company’s top-grossing stock design in history, dating all the way back to the Lily Tulip days,” before Sweetheart was Sweetheart (or Solo or Dart).
To this day, Ekiss keeps a few Jazz-adorned objects around and still sees them when she’s out and about. The design is anachronistic or nostalgic, depending on one’s perspective, but either way, it is persistent. Dart, meanwhile, has considered discontinuing its use from time to time, but Jazz’s popularity keeps it in circulation, winding across plates and wrapping around an uncountable number of cups.
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90s jazz design: cups, controversy, and nostalgia
From paper cups to pop culture — the surprisingly dramatic story of the 90s jazz design.
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Cups don’t usually make history — but the 90s jazz cup just hit different.
You saw it in the hands of the field trip mom serving you a cup of warm Kool Aid. It showed up at a slumber party, in the guest bathroom rinse cup dispenser. And there it was again, casually held by a character on your favorite sitcom.
Some designs made history by gracing billboards, runways, or magazines. Their legacies were built on the reputations of famous designers. These ideas were meant to stand out and leave their mark on the world.
The jazz design was never supposed to do any of those things. It wasn’t created with the goal of making history. But, somehow, a paper cup design became iconic.
So, where did those teal and purple crayon scribbles come from? How did they end up on disposable cups? And why — decades later — has the 90s jazz cup design become a symbol of the era?
To find the answers, we’ll need a dash of history, a heaping helping of internet beef, and a whole lot of nostalgia.
It started with a simple cup design
Those now-famous teal and purple scribbles were introduced in 1992 as a disposable cup design by the Sweetheart Cup Company .
After working with external design agencies, Sweetheart Cup Company realized the agencies didn’t understand the printing process — their designs were too complicated to reliably print onto cups. So, the company announced an internal design contest with the goal of finding a design that would print well and appeal to the masses.
The winning design — then simply called “jazz” — used only two colors and was intentionally messy. This allowed the printers to move quickly without worrying about the crispness of the image or whether or not the crayon-like squiggles aligned.
By 2002, the jazz design was Sweetheart Cup Company’s top-grossing design of all time. And when the Solo Cup Company bought out Sweetheart in 2004 — they continued to use the design. Because of the buyout, the jazz design is sometimes known as “Solo Jazz.”
The jazz cup epitomized 90s culture
Originally, the 90s jazz scribbles were meant to be aesthetically pleasing in a neutral way — a straightforward design for paper cups, plates, and bowls. But both the design style and the design itself have become beloved representations of the 90s.
While the actual inspiration is unclear — more on that later — the jazz cup design clearly matches the 90s design aesthetic with its vibrant color combinations and graffiti-like scribbles. Both aspects are characteristic of 90s maximalism , which embraces absurdity, loud color schemes, and conflicting patterns and textures.
The jazz cup design fits right in with 90s pop culture. Just look at the opening credits for popular TV shows from the era, like Saved by the Bell , Fresh Prince , and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper . All of them feature funky and slightly chaotic animations full of zig zags and clashing patterns.
Eclectic shapes, neon colors, and busy illustrations were quintessential aspects of 90s web , fashion, and graphic design. Clearly, the jazz cup was a product of its time.
But while everyone has their own taste in TV shows, clothes, and websites, most people aren’t picky about the disposable cups they use. Thanks to the wide distribution of the cup, this simple design became a shared experience for anyone who grew up in the 90s.
Nostalgia & internet drama put the jazz design back into the spotlight
Although Gina Ekiss, formerly of the Sweetheart Cup Company, is credited as the creator of the 90s jazz design — that credit is not uncontested.
A couple decades after the jazz cup was released, a question on Reddit about the graphic designer behind it sparked controversy. Designer Stephanie Miller responded, claiming she created the original design in the late ‘80s while working for Imperial Bondware — a Sweetheart Cup Company competitor.
Both Stephanie and Gina claim that they created the design for an internal contest at their respective companies. However, Stephanie is adamant that her design came first and speculates that it was stolen , brought to Sweetheart Cup Company, and traced or adapted by Gina.
All this controversy led to internet sleuthing and caught the attention of a few investigative journalists. Unfortunately, since the design changed hands from Sweetheart Cup Company to Solo Cup Company and then again to Dart Container Corporation in 2012, the history is murky. Dart Container Corporation explained that most historical information has been lost, but their best assumption is that Gina is the original creator.
Journalist Thomas Gounley wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so he tracked down Gina , who retired in Aurora, Missouri. Gina confirmed that she created the design while working at Sweetheart Cup Company and showed Thomas her original charcoal drawings of the famous squiggles. Most people took this as proof and the internet embraced Gina as the jazz cup creator.
But Stephanie holds strong with her story , adding that the original design was created with paint, not charcoal — pointing to a teal-crusted paintbrush she still has to back up her claim.
So…who actually created it? We’re not here to take sides. And 90s jazz fans seem to care a lot more about the nostalgia that the design sparks than whoever made it. Not only does “Solo Jazz Pattern” hold “Confirmed Meme” status (an actual thing), it also shows up in more than 500 Etsy listings . Decades after its creation, the teal and purple squiggles still show up on stickers, clothes, and even modern websites .
At this point, it’s impossible to separate the actual design from the hazy history, internet beef, and childhood memories. The 90s jazz design isn’t revered because it’s the perfect design, it’s cherished because it’s the perfect representation of the 90s kids’ shared experience.
You never know which creations will earn a spot in design history
Gina, Stephanie, and the people of the internet might not agree on the details, but we can all agree on one thing — no one expected a teal and purple doodle on a paper cup to be a hot topic of conversation decades after its creation.
Design trends and pop culture are unpredictable. And that’s what makes them so exciting. You never know when a napkin doodle — or maybe a charcoal drawing or swipe of a paint brush — might make history.
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Designer behind that iconic ’90s jazz cup pattern finally revealed
The power of the internet..
Posted on Jun 22, 2015 Updated on May 28, 2021, 12:48 pm CDT
If you’ve ever gotten a fountain drink from a mall food court or at an amusement park, you probably recognize the design of two blue strokes wrapped around the cup—the wider strokes a lighter aqua blue, the skinnier ones a dark shade that borders on the side of purple.
And the pattern’s famous yet mysterious designer has—after a lengthy bout of Internet sleuthing—finally been found.
The search started with a Reddit AMA request for the “graphic designer who made the ‘jazzy 90s’ image that appeared on millions of paper cups.” Reddit u/mcglaven had a slew of questions, including how much the person got paid and how long they spent on the design. He had already tried deducing the identity of the designer through Google, but found nothing, and turned to Reddit for help.
Mcglaven’s Reddit thread revealed many clues about the design, known as “Jazz,” including the name of the woman behind the design: Gina. Redditor u/pdschatz, artist who was part of the online community that helped appropriate the design into the cultural phenomenon it is on the Internet today, contributed what he knew (as did other Reddit users):
The Jazz design was created in 1991 by an artist in the Springfield, Missouri Art Department at Sweetheart. Sweetheart had an internal contest to come up with a new stock design and Gina’s Jazz Design was selected. Full blown production across multiple products did not start until early 1992.
View post on imgur.com
Thomas Gounley , a Watchdog Reporter for Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader, came across Reddit’s quest to find Gina and used his investigative skills to find the illustrious Gina. He documents his eventual discovery of Gina Ekiss , the woman, the myth, the legend, and her story behind designing Jazz.
Ekiss submitted “three or four ideas,” and other colleagues did the same. The decision was made in 1990 or 1991, she said. “They came back and said that was the one they wanted to go with, and what did I call it,” she said. “I had no idea. So I had to come up with a name for it, so we just called it jazz.”
As to the pattern’s status as nostalgic meme today, Ekiss was nothing less than shocked. “It just seems so insane to me,” she told Gounley.
Yeah, insanely cool .
Update 9:30am CT, Sept. 25: An earlier version of this story stated that Ekiss’ last name was Gounley. The error has been corrected.
H/T Gizmodo , Reddit | Photos via Imgur, Nathan Papes/ News-Leader
Gabe Bergado is a Daily Dot alumnus who covered dank memes, teens, and the weirdest corners of the Internet. One time, Ted Cruz supporters turned him into a meme—or at least tried to. In 2017, he started reporting for Teen Vogue's entertainment section.
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The World Now Knows Who Created This Iconic '90s Solo Cup Pattern You know the teal-and-purple 'Jazz' cup design, but you probably don't know how it came about.
By Kate Taylor • Jun 22, 2015
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
More than two decades after the creation of this iconic cup design, the woman behind the pattern is finally getting some credit.
Two weeks ago, a Reddit user posted a series of questions directed at the creator of the teal and purple "Jazz" design ubiquitous on cups and other paper goods in the 90s, hoping the internet could help track down the person behind the pattern. Last week , Thomas Gounley of the Springfield News-Leader managed to do just that, as clues posted on Reddit helped lead him to Gina Ekiss.
Gounley found that from 1987 to 2002, Ekiss had worked at the Springfield plant of the Sweetheart Cup Company, the distributor of the design. In 1989, the company held an internal contest to create a new stock image, and Ekiss entered the image that would become "Jazz."
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The rest is history. Products featuring Ekiss's design hit the market in 1992. Solo purchased Sweetheart in 2004, leading to many classifying the cups as " Solo Jazz " cups. The design became an emblem of '90s culture, and today has been repurposed as a pattern used on shirts , nail art and even cars .
While Ekiss's design became famous, the creator hasn't gained the same level of renown as her pattern. Ekiss told Gounley she didn't receive royalties or bonuses after her design was selected. Currently, she works as the custom frame shop manager at a Springfield Hobby Lobby location.
Now, however, she's receiving credit for her creation – online, at least. So, whenever you take a sip from your Solo Jazz cup, you can mentally thank Gina Ekiss for her efforts and the combined work of Reddit and Thomas Gounley for bringing her accomplishments to light.
Related: A Coffee Shop Franchise Where the Baristas Wear Almost Nothing Is Actually a Thing
Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor.
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The Lost Designer of This Classic 90s Pattern Has Finally Been Found
You know jazz. Even if you don’t know it you know it: A jagged oil-crayon scribble of teal, laced with a zig-zag of purple, found on paper cups and plates all over the country through the 1990s. Jazz has long had a cult following, but its designer had always been lost to the sands of time.
Despite the explosion of interest in Jazz over the past few years—thanks to 90s nostalgia, and Tumblr , and maybe the carpet of the Portland Airport —folks have tried to no avail to find out who created the pattern. Last week Thomas Gounley , Watchdog Reporter for Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader , took notice of the Jazz community’s plight, and decided to do a little investigative reporting.
Gounley—along with Reddit —took on the project of tracking down the designer who, at that point, was only known as “Gina,” an employee of the Springfield-based Sweetheart Cup Company in the 1990s. The story qualified as local for News-Leader since the design emerged from Springfield, but it touches on the strange power of online communities, mid-90s nostalgia, and the “lost” designers behind the ubiquitous but author-less design that’s all around us.
Google results for jazz cup: Nail art, clothing, and fan parodies.
I won’t spoil the full story of how Gounley tracked down Gina Ekiss, now 50 and still in Springfield, but it’s patently great. As she recounts, she designed the pattern as part of an internal competition at Sweetheart—and didn’t even get a bonus for winning.
Maybe the knowledge that her work took on a life of its own—and that thousands of people were searching for her identity—is a little consolation. You can read the full saga of how Gounley found her here .
[ News-Leader ]
Contact the author at [email protected] .
From Disposable to Iconic: The Story of the 90s Cup
The 90s were a time of great change. One of the most significant changes was the way we approached disposable cups. In the past, these cups were seen as trash that would be thrown away after one use. But the 90s brought about a new attitude towards disposable cups, embodied by the Solo Cup.
The Solo Cup quickly became an icon of the 90s, and its story is one of innovation and reinvention. This cup was different than any other before it. It was sturdy, could be reused, and had a variety of uses beyond just holding drinks. Below I will explain the story behind the famous 90s cups.
The name of the 90s cup
Solo Cup Company, now known as Dart Container Corporation, is the manufacturer of the 90s cup. The company was founded in 1936 by Leo Hulseman. It originally started as a paper product maker but soon began experimenting with plastic. In 1955, the company created its first plastic cup. This cup was made of thin, flimsy plastic and was not very durable. However, it was still a major innovation and quickly became popular.
In the 1970s, Solo Cup Company introduced a new line of cups called “The Unbreakable.” These cups were thicker plastic and much more durable than their predecessors. They quickly became popular among partygoers and bar-goers who wanted a cup that wouldn’t break if it was dropped.
In the 1980s , Solo Cup Company introduced a new product that would change how we think about disposable cups forever: the Solo Cup. The Solo Cup was made of thick, sturdy plastic and could be reused multiple times.
It quickly became popular among people who wanted a cup that they could use over and over again. On the other hand, the Dixie cups have the same items, but it was founded by Lawrence Luellen , an entirely different company.
The attitude change toward disposable cups that happens in the 90s
In the 90s, the attitude towards disposable cups changed dramatically. In the past, these cups were seen as trash that would be thrown away after one use. But the 90s brought about a new attitude towards disposable cups, embodied by the Solo Cup.
This cup was different than any other before it. It was sturdy, could be reused, and had a variety of uses beyond just holding drinks. The Solo Cup quickly became an icon of the 90s, and its story is one of innovation and reinvention.
The way the Solo Cup company became an icon of the 90s
The Solo Cup became an icon of the 90s because it was different from any other cup. It quickly became popular among people who wanted a cup that they could use over and over again.
It was made of thick, sturdy plastic and could be reused multiple times. The Solo Cup was also affordable, making it accessible to everyone. These factors made the Solo Cup an icon of the 90s.
What made the Solo Cup different from other cups?
The Solo Cup was different from other cups because it was made of thick, sturdy plastic and could be reused multiple times. It quickly became popular among people who wanted a cup that they could use over and over again. The Solo Cup was also affordable, making it accessible to everyone. These factors made the Solo Cup an icon of the 90s.
What are some of the uses for the Solo paper Cups?
The Solo Cup can be used for various things beyond just holding drinks. It can be used as a storage container, a plant pot, or a makeshift stool. The versatility of the Solo Cup makes it one of the most iconic products of the 90s.
Who made the jazz paper Cup design?
The Solo Cup jazz design was inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s. Gina Ekiss, the creator of the disposable cup design, was influenced by this period when she created the jazz cup pattern in 1992. The results of her creation became one of the most recognizable patterns from the 90s and can still be found for purchase today and for many more decades. This was a company created with this pattern called the Sweetheart Cup Company , but in 2004 Solo Cup Company purchased this brand, and now they own all the rights to the print.
What is the significance of the 90s cup?
The 90s cup is significant because it represents a change in attitude towards disposable cups. In the past, these cups were seen as trash that would be thrown away after one use. But the 90s brought about a new attitude towards disposable cups, embodied by the Solo Cup.
This cup was different than any other before it. It was sturdy, could be reused, and had a variety of uses beyond. The Solo Jazz pattern is copyrighted and can only be used with permission from the Solo Cup Company.
What can we learn from the story of the Solo Cup?
The story of the Solo Cup teaches us that innovation can come from anywhere. The Solo Cup was created by a company known for its disposable cups. But the company saw an opportunity to create something new and different, and they did just that. The result was a product that forever changed how we think about disposable cups.
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This Famous Jazz Aesthetic Is Hella ’90s (And Off-Limits)
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The instantly-recognizable Jazz aesthetic is quintessentially ‘90s. And the company that owns the cup design doesn’t want you to enjoy it.
What is the Jazz Solo cup design?
Who created the jazz solo cup design, jazz, jazz, and more jazz.
The Solo Jazz Pattern is an iconic turquoise and purple sketch pattern on waxed paper cups. Sweetheart Cup Company originally manufactured these cups in 1992.
It looks like a combination of crayon and brush strokes, but the medium was charcoal — random yet perfectly intentional, jagged yet rhythmic. And the particular shades of purple and blue are well suited for a zip-up windbreaker (also very ‘90s).
Though almost anyone who was alive in the ‘90s would recognize it, the pattern has a particularly devoted online fan base. It later experienced increased mainstream popularity after a 2015 Reddit campaign sought to find its designer.
But with so many other recognizable patterns and logos out there, you may be wondering:
Why is the Jazz aesthetic such an iconic design?
The cups may be disposable, but the design itself remains popular, even decades later.
For many, the design is reminiscent of childhood birthday parties and family cookouts, but the nostalgia doesn’t stop there.
Related: The Most Popular ’90s Toys From Beanie Babies to Power Rangers
One of the most iconic bands of all time, Nirvana made a significant mark on ‘90s culture. Their MTV Unplugged set continues to be a highlight of their career and of the series itself. And you guessed it; there’s a Jazz cup appearance with none other than frontman Kurt Cobain.
It’s not just that the cup is recognizable — the context is fun and memorable. Unlike red Solo cups’ association with college parties and drinking games, the Jazz cup represents an all-ages, nostalgic view of a simpler time.
Where is the Jazz design used other than on cups?
It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen one of these cups in the wild. If you’ve seen the design at all, it’s likely in the form of a Photoshop mockup or a meme. Try finding a Jazz design phone case or t-shirt online. Even sites notorious for knock-off designs like, Redbubble and Amazon, rarely have products available for purchase. At least, not for very long after going live.
No products found.
The design’s elusive nature could explain why so many are interested in it. But why would such an eye-catching, nostalgia-inducing visual be so hard to find, especially when ‘90s aesthetics inspire many recent TikTok trends?
That, friends, is where the story gets interesting. Let’s just say that the cup runneth over with delicious, scandalous tea.
What’s the story behind the Jazz design?
In 2015, Reddit user /u/mcglavin posted the following in /r/AMA.
[AMA Request] The graphic designer who made the "jazzy 90s" image that appeared on millions of paper cups by u/mcglaven in IAmA
And like Reddit famously does on the regular, it found the designer. Not only that, but members of the community behind the proliferation of Jazz Photoshops spoke out about their own role in its popularity.
“So, I was a part of a community of artists on the internet that helped appropriate the Solo Jazz design back in 2010 or 2011. We created a series of templates of the design, including vectors, and put it on everything we possibly could. We made a facebook page, we made a tumblr, sold shirts, and eventually, one of us decided to contact Solo Corp. about the design.”
Solo wasn’t supportive. But let’s backtrack a bit to the design’s inception.
With a solid string of evidence and after speaking to her, the internet and local media concluded that Gina Ekiss created the Jazz design.
In response to Reddit’s findings, the Springfield News-Leader interviewed Gina to hear her story.
Stephanie Miller has contested this story , saying that her work is what the design is based on. The company’s feedback was that it was too “forward-thinking,” a hilarious observation in retrospect.
Collectively, there is more evidence that Gina created the design, but we may never know for sure. A Solo representative agreed with this sentiment.
“At this time, our best assumption is that a former employee named Gina created the design, but we are unable to confirm whether this is accurate or not.”
Gina was never paid a single dollar of bonus or royalty for her work, which is interesting because…
Corporations Gonna Corporation
Through various acquisitions (by the Solo Cup Company, which Dart Container acquired), the ownership of this design has traded hands a few times.
Similar to the aggressive tactics of companies like Disney or Nintendo, they just really don’t want you to use the design. Anywhere. Even if it’s just for memes, not profit.
One artist, Christopher Locke, was selling the Jazz design on ceramic mugs as a commentary on the wastefulness of disposable cups.
Maybe they’re sensitive to commentary. Maybe they’re simply defending IP. But, as Locke said, it comes off more like “corporate bullshit.”
The company had official merch for sale at publication time of Vice’s article. It is currently a blank page with the URL slug “password.” Like media piracy, one could argue that not even attempting to offer your IP in an official capacity compels people to rip it off. What else would they do?
Unfortunately, it seems they have a love-hate relationship with the Jazz aesthetic.
“Many times Solo has often pondered removing it but customers demands and feedback have kept this cup around,” said one representative .
They don’t seem to have a particularly high regard for parody or fair use. They shut down various Instagram pages and a Facebook fan page. Content was also removed from Tumblr . It’s not even like they took official control over the Facebook page to moderate it. They just deleted it.
For a while, fuckjerry used the design as his profile picture. That’s no longer the case, which seems to be related to controversy over the founder’s joke-stealing habit .
Oliver Tree’s music video for “All That x Alien Boy” featured the design on a monster truck and clothing as recently as 2018. Solo wasn’t happy with that, either.
Will we ever understand the rationale behind killing off free advertising?
The Jazz aesthetic is more than a cup design — it’s an enduring cornerstone of ’90s culture.
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Three decades after the Soviet era, this Moscow street echoes what was.
And hints where russia is heading., welcome to tverskaya street.
MOSCOW — Thirty years ago, the Soviet Union ceased to be. The flag was lowered for the last time on Dec. 25, 1991. That moment still raises deep questions for the U.S.S.R.’s heirs: “Who were we as Soviets, and where are we going as Russians?”
Many of the answers can be found on Moscow’s main thoroughfare — named Gorky Street, after writer Maxim Gorky, from 1932 to 1990, and renamed Tverskaya Street, a nod to the ancient city of Tver, as the Soviet Union was awash in last-gasp reforms.
It was the Soviet Union’s display window on the bright future that Kremlin-run communism was supposed to bring. It was where the KGB dined, the rich spent their rubles, Vladimir Lenin gave speeches from a balcony, and authorities wielded their power against one of the most famous Soviet dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
In the 1990s, Tverskaya embodied the fast-money excesses of the post-Soviet free-for-all. In later years, it was packed with hopeful pro-democracy marchers. And now , under President Vladimir Putin, it is a symbol of his dreams of reviving Russia as a great power, reliving past glories and crushing any opposition to his rule.
Join a tour of Moscow’s famed Tverskaya Street.
Hotel National: Where the Soviet government began
The window in Room 107 at the Hotel National faces Red Square and the Kremlin. It offers a perfect view of Lenin’s tomb — fitting, since he was Room 107’s most famous guest.
The Kremlin was damaged during the Russian Revolution in 1917. So Lenin and his wife moved into Room 107 for seven days in March 1918, making the hotel the first home of the Soviet government.
The Hotel National in Moscow, from top: Artwork in the Socialist Realist style — which artists were ordered to adopt in the 1930s — still adorns the hotel; Elena Pozolotina has worked at the hotel since 1995; the hotel, which contains a restaurant, was built in 1902; the National has hosted notable guests, including Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and actor Jack Nicholson. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
The National, built in 1902 during the era of Imperial Russia, also accommodated other Soviet leaders, including Leon Trotsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky, chief of the secret police. The building continued to be used by the Soviet government as a hostel for official party delegates and was renamed First House of Soviets in 1919.
Guests can now stay in the same room Lenin did for about $1,300 a night. In more recent years, the hotel has hosted notable guests including Barack Obama (when he was a senator) and actor Jack Nicholson.
“This hotel feels a little like a museum,” said Elena Pozolotina, who has worked at the National since 1995.
“We have rooms that look onto Tverskaya Street, and we always explain to guests that this is the main street of our city,” Pozolotina said. “This corner of Tverskaya that we occupy, it’s priceless.”
Stalin’s plan: ‘The building is moving’
When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin demanded a massive redevelopment of Moscow in 1935, an order came to transform modest Gorky Street into a wide, awe-inspiring boulevard.
Engineer Emmanuel Gendel had the job of moving massive buildings to make way for others. Churches and monasteries were blown up, replaced by newspaper offices and a huge cinema.
The Moscow Central Eye Hospital was sheared from its foundation, rotated 97 degrees, jacked up, hitched on rails and pushed back 20 yards — with surgeons operating all the while, or so official media reported at the time.
Gendel’s daughter, then about 8, proudly stood at a microphone, announcing: “Attention, attention, the building is moving.” Tatiana Yastrzhembskaya, Gendel’s granddaughter and president of the Winter Ball charity foundation in Moscow, recalls that Gendel extolled communism but also enjoyed the rewards of the elite. He drove a fine car and always brought the family the best cakes and candies, she said.
The largest Gorky Street building Gendel moved was the Savvinskoye Courtyard. The most difficult was the Mossoviet, or Moscow city hall, with a balcony where Lenin had given speeches. The building, the former residence of the Moscow governor general, had to be moved with its basement. The ground floor had been a ballroom without central structural supports.
Moving buildings on Gorky Street in 1940, from left: A mechanic at a control panel regulates the supply of electricity while a house is being moved; a postal worker passes a moving house; a specialist unwinds a telephone cable during a building move to maintain uninterrupted communication; 13 rail tracks were placed under a house, on which 1,200 metal rollers were laid. (Photos by RGAKFD)
Gendel’s skills were used all over the U.S.S.R. — straightening towers on ancient mosques in Uzbekistan, inventing a means to drag tanks from rivers during World War II and consulting on the Moscow Metro.
Like many of the Soviet Union’s brightest talents, Gendel found that his freedom was tenuous. His ex-wife was called by the KGB internal spy agency in 1937 and asked to denounce him. She refused, and he avoided arrest.
“I believe he was not arrested and sent to the camps because he was a unique expert,” said Yastrzhembskaya. World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, interrupted the Master Plan for Gorky Street.
Aragvi restaurant: A haunt of the KGB
In the 1930s, the head of the elite NKVD secret police, Lavrenty Beria, one of the architects of the Stalin-era purges, ordered the construction of a state-owned restaurant, Aragvi, to showcase food from his home republic of Georgia.
One night, NKVD agents descended in several black cars on a humble Georgian canteen in Moscow that Beria had once visited. The agents ordered the chef, Longinoz Stazhadze, to come with them. The feared NKVD was a precursor to the KGB.
Stazhadze thought he was being arrested, his son Levan told Russian media. He was taken to Beria, who said that he had agreed with “the Boss” (Stalin) that Stazhadze would run Aragvi. Stazhadze had grown up a peasant, sent to work in a prince’s kitchens as a boy.
Aragvi opened in 1938. It was only for the gilded set, a reminder that the “Soviet paradise” was anything but equitable. The prices were astronomical. It was impossible to get a table unless the doorman knew you or you could pay a hefty bribe.
Aragvi, at No. 6 Tverskaya, was a favorite of the secret police; government officials; cosmonauts and pilots; stars of theater, movies and ballet; directors; poets; chess masters. Beria reputedly dined in a private room. Poet Sergei Mikhalkov said he composed the lyrics of the Soviet national anthem while sitting in the restaurant in 1943.
It was privatized in the 1990s and struggled, before closing in 2002. It reopened in 2016 after a $20 million renovation. But the new Aragvi closed abruptly in 2019 amid reports of a conflict between its owner and the building managers.
“You put your entire soul into cooking,” said the former head chef, Nugzar Nebieridze, 59, celebrated for his khinkali, a meaty dumpling almost the size of a tennis ball. He was devastated to find himself unemployed. But other doors opened. He now prefers to travel, giving master classes around Russia.
Stalin’s funeral: A deadly street crush that never officially happened
On March 6, 1953, the day after Stalin died of a stroke, an estimated 2 million Muscovites poured onto the streets. They hoped to catch a glimpse of his body, covered with flowers and laid out in the marbled Hall of Columns near Red Square.
Yulia Revazova, then 13, sneaked from her house with her cousin Valery without telling their parents. As they walked toward Pushkin Square, at one end of Gorky Street, the procession turned into a scene of horror. They saw people falling and being trampled. Some were crushed against metal fences. Valery, who was a few years older, grabbed Yulia by the hand and dragged her out of the crowd.
“He held my hand really tight and never let it go, because it was pure madness,” she recalled recently. “It took us four or five hours to get out of there. People kept coming and coming. I couldn’t even call it a column; it was just an uncontrollable mass of people.”
“I still have this feeling, the fear of massive crowds,” added Revazova, 82. “To this day, if I see a huge group of people or a really long line, I just cross the street.”
Neither Revazova nor her cousin knew about Stalin’s repressions.
“People were crying. I saw many women holding little handkerchiefs, wiping away tears and wailing,” she recalled. “That’s the psychology of a Soviet person. If there is no overarching figure above, be it God or Lenin, life will come crashing down. The era was over, and there was fear. What will we do without Stalin?”
Officials never revealed how many people died that day. The Soviet-approved archival footage of the four days of national mourning showed only orderly marches and memorials.
No. 9: The ruthless culture minister
The Soviet culture minister, the steely Yekaterina Furtseva, was nicknamed Catherine the Third, after the forceful Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Furtseva destroyed writers, artists or anyone else who challenged Soviet ideas. She lived at an elite 1949 apartment building for government officials at No. 9 — an ultra-prestigious address with a view of the Kremlin.
Furtseva, a former small-town weaver, made sure that No. 9 was only for the cream of party officials and other notables, such as famous Soviet actress Natalia Seleznyova, scientists, conductors and architects.
Riding the coattails of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Furtseva was the only woman in the Politburo and later became the Soviet Union’s cultural gatekeeper despite her provincial sensibilities. She once infamously mixed up a symphony with an opera, and critics were quick to notice.
“She had little in common with the artistic leaders of her country except a liking for vodka,” Norwegian painter Victor Sparre wrote in his 1979 book on the repression of dissident Soviet writers, “The Flame in the Darkness.”
Furtseva was famous for previewing performances and declaring anyone even subtly critical of Soviet policies as being anti-state. Director Yuri Lyubimov described one such visit to Moscow’s Taganka Theater in 1969, when she turned up wearing diamond rings and an astrakhan coat. She banned the play “Alive,” depicting a cunning peasant’s struggle against the collective farm system. She “was livid, she kept shouting,” he told L’Alternative magazine in 1984. She stormed out, warning him she would use her influence, “up to the highest levels,” against him.
He was expelled from the party and in 1984 was stripped of his citizenship. She vehemently denounced Solzhenitsyn, and banned the Bolshoi Ballet’s version of “Carmen” in 1967 over prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya’s sensual performance and “un-Soviet” costumes that did not cover enough leg.
“The ballet is all erotica,” she told the dancer. “It’s alien to us.” But Plisetskaya, whom Khrushchev once called the world’s best dancer, fought back. The ballet went on with some excisions (the costumes stayed) and became a legend in the theater’s repertoire.
Furtseva was nearly felled by scandal in 1974, ordered to repay $80,000 spent building a luxurious dacha, or country home, using state labor. She died months later.
Where Solzhenitsyn was arrested
The Nobel Prize-winning Solzhenitsyn exposed the Soviet system’s cruelty against some of its brightest minds, trapped in the gulag, or prison camps.
Solzhenitsyn was given eight years of hard labor in 1945 for privately criticizing Stalin, then three years of exile in Kazakhstan, a Soviet republic at the time. His books were banned. After release from exile in 1956, he was allowed to make only 72-hour visits to the home of his second wife, Natalia, at 12 Gorky St., Apt. 169. Solzhenitsyn had to live outside the city.
“People knew that there were camps, but not many people, if any, knew what life was like in those camps. And he described it from the inside. He had been there himself, and that was shocking to a lot of people,” said Natalia Solzhenitsyna during a recent interview at the apartment, which became a museum in 2018.
“Many people say that he did make a contribution to the final fall of the Soviet Union.”
Solzhenitsyn, who died in 2008, called Russia “the land of smothered opportunities.” He wrote that it is always possible to live with integrity. Lies and evil might flourish — “but not through me.”
The museum displays tiny handwritten copies of Solzhenitsyn’s books, circulated secretly; film negatives of letters smuggled to the West; and beads made of compacted bread that he used to memorize poems in prison.
“He spent a lot of time here with his children. We were always very busy. And we just enjoyed ourselves — being together,” Solzhenitsyna said. They had three sons.
No. 12 Gorky St., from top: Natalia Solzhenitsyna lived in the apartment for years, and her husband, Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was allowed only short visits; the site now houses a museum displaying items connected to him, such as negatives containing a copy of a novel he wrote; another exhibit includes Solzhenitsyn’s clothes from when he was sent to the gulag and beads made of compacted bread that he used to memorize poems; the Nobel Prize-winning writer’s desk is featured at the museum. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Because of KGB bugs, if the couple were discussing something sensitive, they wrote notes to each other, and then destroyed them. Two KGB agents usually roosted in the stairwell on the floor above, with two more on the floor below.
“The Soviet authorities were afraid of him because of his popularity among intellectuals, writers, people of culture and the intelligentsia.”
Her favorite room is decked with black-and-white photos of dissidents sent to the gulag, the Soviet Union’s sprawling system of forced labor camps. “It’s dedicated to the invisibles,” she said, pointing out friends.
Sweden planned to award Solzhenitsyn’s 1970 literature prize in the Gorky Street apartment, but the writer rejected a secret ceremony. A Swedish journalist in Moscow, Stig Fredrikson, was Solzhenitsyn’s smuggler. He carried Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel lecture on tightly rolled film disguised as a battery in a transistor radio, and he took other letters to the West and transported photos taped to his back.
“I felt that there was a sense of unfairness that he was so isolated and so persecuted,” Fredrikson said in a recent interview. “I got more and more scared and more and more afraid every time I met him.”
In 1971, the Soviet Union allegedly tried to poison Solzhenitsyn using a secret nerve agent, leaving him seriously ill. Early 1974 was tense. The prosecutor subpoenaed him. State newspapers railed against him.
The morning of Feb. 12, 1974, the couple worked in their study. In the afternoon, he walked his 5-month-old son, Stepan, in the yard below.
“He came back here, and literally a minute later, there was a ring at the door. There were eight men. They immediately broke the chain and got in,” his widow said. “There was a prosecutor in his prosecutor’s uniform, two men in plainclothes, and the rest were in military uniform. They told him to get dressed.”
“We hugged and we kept hugging for quite a while,” she recalled. “The last thing he told me was to take care of the children.”
He was deported to West Germany. The couple later settled in Vermont and set up a fund to help dissident writers, using royalties from his book “The Gulag Archipelago.” About 1,000 people still receive money from the fund, according to Solzhenitsyna.
When the writer and his wife returned to Russia in 1994, they traveled across the country by train. Thousands of people crushed into halls to hear him speak.
Solzhenitsyn abhorred the shock therapy and unchecked capitalism of the 1990s and preferred Putin’s tough nationalism. He died of heart failure at 89 in August 2008, five months after a presidential election in which Putin switched places with the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, in a move that critics saw as a ploy to get around constitutional term limits.
No. 6: ‘Feasts of thought’
Behind a grand Stalin-era apartment block at 6 Gorky St. sits an ornate 1907 building famous for its facade, art nouveau glazed blue tiles, elegant arches and baroque spires. Once a monastery dormitory, it was a staple of pre-Soviet postcards from Moscow. But in November 1939, the 26,000-ton building was put on rails and pushed back to widen the street.
Linguists Lev and Raisa Kopelev lived in Apt. 201 on the top floor. Their spacious dining room became a favored haven for Moscow’s intelligentsia from the 1950s to the 1980s.
“People gathered all the time — to talk. In this apartment, like many other kitchens and dining rooms, at tables filled more often than not with vodka, herring and vinaigrette salad, feasts of thought took place,” said Svetlana Ivanova, Raisa’s daughter from another marriage, who lived in the apartment for nearly four decades.
Solzhenitsyn and fellow dissident Joseph Brodsky were Kopelev family friends, as were many other artists, poets, writers and scientists who formed the backbone of the Soviet human rights movement of the 1960s.
As a writer and dissident, Kopelev had turned his back on the Communist Party and a prestigious university position. The onetime gulag prisoner inspired the character Lev Rubin in Solzhenitsyn’s novel “In the First Circle,” depicting the fate of arrested scientists.
“The apartment was a special place for everyone. People there were not afraid to speak their mind on topics that would be considered otherwise risky,” Ivanova said. “A new, different spirit ruled in its walls.”
Eliseevsky: Pineapples during a famine
The Eliseevsky store at No. 16 was a landmark for 120 years — born in czarist Russia, a witness to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, a survivor of wars, and a bastion during eras of shortages and plenty. It closed its doors in April.
Eliseevsky fell on hard times during the coronavirus pandemic, as international tourists dwindled and Russians sought cheaper grocery-shopping alternatives.
In the palace-like interior, two chandeliers hang from an ornate ceiling. Gilt columns line the walls. The front of the store, looking out at Tverskaya Street, has a row of stained glass.
The Eliseevsky store, which opened in 1901, is seen in April, with a few customers and some archival photos, as it prepared to close as an economic victim of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Denis Romodin, a historian at the Museum of Moscow, said Eliseevsky is one of only two retail spaces in Moscow with such pre-revolutionary interiors. But Eliseevsky’s level of preservation made it “one of a kind,” he said.
The building was once owned by Zinaida Volkonskaya, a princess and Russian cultural figure in the 19th century. She remodeled the house into a literary salon whose luminaries included Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin.
St. Petersburg merchant Grigory Eliseev opened the market in 1901. It quickly became a hit among Russian nobility for its selection of European wines and cheeses.
Romodin said it was Russia’s first store with price tags. Before Eliseevsky, haggling was the norm. And it was also unique in having innovative technology for the time: electric-powered refrigerators and display cases that allowed goods to be stored longer.
Even in the Soviet Union’s hungriest years, the 1930s famine, Eliseevsky stocked pineapples.
“One could find outlandish delicacies here, which at that time seemed very exotic,” Romodin said. “It was already impossible to surprise Muscovites with wine shops. But a grocery store with luxurious interiors, and large for that time, amazed and delighted Muscovites.”
The First Gallery: A glimpse of openness
In 1989, in a dusty government office by a corner of Pushkin Square, three young artists threw off decades of suffocating state control and opened the Soviet Union’s first independent art gallery.
That April, Yevgeny Mitta and two fellow students, Aidan Salakhova and Alexander Yakut, opened First Gallery. At the time, the Soviet Union was opening up under policies including glasnost, which gave more room for public debate and criticism.
Artists were ordered to adopt the Socialist Realist style in 1934, depicting scenes such as happy collective farmworkers. Expressionist, abstract and avant-garde art was banned. From the 1970s, underground art exhibitions were the only outlets to break the Soviet-imposed rules.
The First Gallery, from top: Yevgeny Mitta, Aidan Salakhova and Alexander Yakut opened the Soviet Union’s first independent art gallery in 1989 and received media attention; Mitta works on a painting that he displayed at his gallery; Mitta recalled recently that he “felt we had to make something new”; an undated photo of Mitta at his gallery in Soviet times. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post and courtesy of Yevgeny Mitta)
“I just felt we had to make something new,” recalled Mitta, 58, who kept his interest in contemporary expressionism a secret at a top Moscow art school in the 1980s.
“It was like nothing really happened in art history in the 20th century, like it stopped,” he said. “The Socialist Realism doctrine was invented and spread to the artists as the only one, possible way of developing paintings, films and literature.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, artists had to “learn how to survive, what to do, how to work and make a living,” he said.
McDonald’s: ‘We were not used to smiling’
In the Soviet Union’s final years, a mania raged for all things Western. Estée Lauder opened the first Western-brand shop on Gorky Street in 1989, after meeting Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in December 1988.
The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s, located across Pushkin Square on Gorky Street, opened on Jan. 31, 1990 — a yellow-arched symbol of Gorbachev’s perestroika economic reforms. Pizza Hut opened later that year. (In 1998, Gorbachev starred in a commercial for the pizza chain.)
Karina Pogosova and Anna Patrunina were cashiers at the McDonald’s on opening day. The line stretched several blocks. Police officers stood watch to keep it organized.
The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s opened in 1990 and eager customers lined up to enter; Karina Pogosova, left, and Anna Patrunina were cashiers at the fast-food restaurant on Gorky Street then, and they are senior executives with the company today. (Photos by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images and Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
“The atmosphere was wonderful. The first day I had to smile the entire day and my face muscles hurt,” Patrunina said. “This is not a joke. Russians do not smile in general, so we were not used to smiling at all, not to mention for more than eight hours straight.”
Pogosova and Patrunina were students at the Moscow Aviation Institute when they learned McDonald’s was hiring through an ad in a Moscow newspaper. Interview questions included: “How fast can you run 100 meters?” It was to gauge if someone was energetic enough for the job.
Pogosova and Patrunina are still with the company today, as senior vice president of development and franchising and vice president of operations, respectively.
“I thought that this is the world of opportunities and this new world is coming to our country, so I must be in this new world,” Patrunina said.
The smiling staff wasn’t the only culture shock for customers. Some had never tried the fountain sodas that were available. They were unaccustomed to food that wasn’t eaten with utensils. The colorful paper boxes that Big Macs came in were occasionally saved as souvenirs.
McDonald’s quickly became a landmark on the street.
“I remember very well that the street and the entire city was very dark and McDonald’s was like an island of light with bright signage,” Pogosova said. “The street started to change after McDonald’s opened its first restaurant there.”
Wild ’90s and a missing ballerina
The end of the Soviet Union uncorked Moscow’s wild 1990s. Some people made instant fortunes by acquiring state-owned enterprises at throwaway prices. Rules were being written on the fly. The city was pulsing with possibilities for those with money or those desperate to get some.
“It was easy to get drunk on this,” said Alex Shifrin, a former Saatchi & Saatchi advertising executive from Canada who lived in Moscow from the mid-1990s until the late 2000s.
It all was on full display at Night Flight, Moscow’s first nightclub, opened by Swedish managers in 1991, in the final months of the Soviet Union, at Tverskaya 17. The club introduced Moscow’s nouveau elite to “face control” — who merits getting past the rope line — and music-throbbing decadence.
The phrase “standing on Tverskaya” made its way into Russian vernacular as the street became a hot spot for prostitutes. Toward the end of the 2000s, Night Flight had lost its luster. The club scene in Moscow had moved on to bigger and bolder venues.
Decades before, No. 17 had been famous as the building with the dancer: a statue of a ballerina, holding a hammer and sickle, placed atop the cupola during Stalin’s building blitz.
Muscovites nicknamed the building the House Under the Skirt.
“The idea was to have Gorky Street as a museum of Soviet art. The statues represented a dance of socialism,” art historian Pavel Gnilorybov said. “The ballerina was a symbol of the freedom of women and the idea that, before the revolution, women were slaves. It is as if she is singing an ode to the regime.”
The crumbling statues were removed by 1958. People forgot them. Now a group of Muscovites, including Gnilorybov, are campaigning for the return of the ballerina.
“It’s an idea that we want to give the city as a gift. It’s not political,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
Pushkin Square: For lovers and protesters
Pushkin Square has been Moscow’s favorite meeting place for friends, lovers and political demonstrations.
In November 1927, Trotskyist opponents of Stalin marched to the 27th House of Soviets at one end of Tverskaya Street, opposite the Hotel National, in one of the last public protests against the Soviet ruler.
In December 1965, several dozen dissidents gathered in Pushkin Square to protest the trials of two writers. It became an annual event. People would gather just before 6 p.m. and, on the hour, remove their hats for a minute.
In 1987, dissidents collected signatures at Pushkin Square and other locations calling for a memorial to those imprisoned or killed by the Soviet state. The movement evolved into Memorial, a leading human rights group. Memorial was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016 under Putin’s sweeping political crackdowns.
In January 2018, left, and January 2021, right, protesters gathered at Pushkin Square. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Protests in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny were held at Pushkin Square earlier this year. And it is where communists and liberals rallied on a rainy September night to protest 2021 parliamentary election results that gave a landslide win to Putin’s United Russia party despite widespread claims of fraud.
Nearly 30 years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., Putin’s Russia carries some echoes of the stories lived out in Soviet times — censorship and repressions are returning. Navalny was poisoned by a nerve agent in 2020 and later jailed. Many opposition figures and independent journalists have fled the country. The hope, sleaze and exhilaration of the 1990s have faded. Tverskaya Street has settled into calm stagnation, waiting for the next chapter.
Arthur Bondar contributed to this report.
Correction: A map accompanying this article incorrectly spelled the first name of a former Soviet leader. He is Vladimir Lenin, not Vladmir Lenin. The map has been corrected.
About this story
Story editing by Robyn Dixon and Brian Murphy. Photos and videos by Arthur Bondar. Archival footage from the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk; footage of Joseph Stalin’s funeral from the Martin Manhoff Archive, courtesy of Douglas Smith. Photo editing by Chloe Coleman. Video editing by Jason Aldag. Design and development by Yutao Chen. Design editing by Suzette Moyer. Maps by Dylan Moriarty. Graphics editing by Lauren Tierney. Copy editing by Melissa Ngo.
2018 Primetime Emmy & James Beard Award Winner
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Drone hits Moscow tower housing ministries for second time, says mayor
Russian defence ministry blames Kyiv for attack as Ukrainian presidential adviser says Kremlin should expect ‘more war’
- Russia-Ukraine war – latest news updates
A high-rise building in Moscow housing Russian government ministries has been hit by a drone for the second time in three days, the city’s mayor has said, as a Ukrainian presidential adviser said the Kremlin should expect more drone attacks and “more war”.
The Russian defence ministry said two drones were destroyed by air defence systems in the Odintsovo and Naro-Fominsk districts near Moscow in a fresh wave of attacks on Tuesday, while it claimed a third was jammed and went “out of control” before it crashed in the Moscow City business district, a cluster of glass skyscrapers that was built to show Russia’s growing integration into world financial markets. The ministry blamed Ukraine for what it called an “attempted terrorist attack”.
Photos and video showed that a drone had ripped off part of the facade of a modern skyscraper, IQ-Quarter, 3.4 miles (5.5km) from the Kremlin, which houses staff from several ministries, including Russia’s ministry of digital development, communications and mass media.
“The facade of the 21st floor was damaged. The glazing of 150 sq metres was broken,” the Moscow mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said in a Telegram post, adding that no injuries had been reported.
Ukraine has not formally admitted it was behind the strikes on Sunday and early on Tuesday, though they appear to be part of a growing strategy to bring home the consequences of Vladimir Putin’s war to Russia’s civilian population.
The Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak suggested in a tweet on Tuesday that the Russian capital, whose residents have largely been able to ignore the devastation being meted out on a daily basis in Ukraine, was experiencing payback.
“Moscow is rapidly getting used to full-fledged war, which, in turn, will soon finally move to the territory of the ‘authors of the war’ to collect all their debts. Everything that will happen in Russia is an objective historical process.
“More unidentified drones, more collapse, more civil conflicts, more war …” he wrote .
Russia’s economy ministry said its employees were working remotely after the latest attack. Moscow’s Vnukovo airport was also temporarily shut and flights redirected.
The Moscow City district towers, often unoccupied at night, are located further from the Kremlin than other highly defended government targets such as the ministry of defence, where Russia had stationed a Pantsir S-1 air defence system on the roof last year, and present a large, tall target.
In a video address on Sunday, the Ukrainian president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, made the same point as Podolyak as he said the war was coming home to Russia after three drones were shot down over Moscow.
“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia – to its symbolic centres and military bases. This is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskiy said.
The attacks on Tuesday marked at least the fifth time that unmanned aerial vehicles have reached the Russian capital since May, when two drones came down over the Kremlin. Moscow and its surrounding area are more than 500km from the Ukrainian border and the conflict there.
While the damage so far has been relatively minor, the attacks appear designed to show up Moscow’s vulnerability to drone warfare. Ukrainian bloggers on Tuesday ironically repeated claims made in April by the commander of Russia’s air defences, Lieut Gen Andrey Demin.
“There is hardly a better sky shield anywhere in the world than Moscow,” Demin assured a Russian newspaper.
The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that it had also foiled a Ukrainian drone attack targeting patrol boats in the Black Sea.
The attack on Moscow came as Russia launched its own drone strike, on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, injuring one person. Five Iranian-made Shahed drones were deployed, Ukrainian officials said.
Two floors of a college dormitory were destroyed and set on fire as Russia targeted “densely populated” areas of the north-eastern city, the mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said on Telegram on Tuesday, adding that three explosions had been heard in the city.
The chief of police in Kharkiv, Volodymyr Tymoshko, said there were two night-time strikes – one on the college and one on the city centre. One person was injured in the city centre.
It was unclear whether anyone was in the college building when it was struck, with local media initially saying it was empty and later reporting one person had been inside.