this thing's incredible

This Lamp Lights Zoom Calls by Day—and Turns My Home Into a Club at Night

The author tunes her floor lamp, in the right corner of her living room, to a fuchsia color when she wants to “sex it up.” Photo: Courtesy of Sydnee Washington

As a cocktail waitress and club kid turned standup comedian, I’ve always been obsessed with lighting. I love the limelight, literally. I want to constantly live my life with the blue lighting that dusts the characters in Insecure. Those green lasers that flash past Jennifer Lopez in the “Waiting for Tonight” video? That’s my mood.

When quarantine hit, my roommate moved out, and I immediately started decorating. Next to plants, lights were my biggest investment. I wanted to make every room sexier, to give each space a more sensual vibe, even though there was nothing sensual about my living situation. I imagined an amusement park crossed with a nightclub or pharmacy, all mushed inside a Brooklyn apartment. The first thing I bought was a slender, flat-top torchiere floor lamp for my living room. It uses LED technology instead of bulbs and has a head, which you can position at all sorts of angles, that spits a rainbow of colors (the brand claims some 16 million!). It’s also “smart,” so I can control it on my phone and change the colors depending on the ambience I’m going for.

If I have to Zoom and just need lighting that flatters my angles, I’ll tune the lamp to shine white light. The effect is like a ring light, which can cost a lot more than the lamp itself. But I much prefer its fruitier colors. If I’m feeling sad, I will make it a shade of blue. If I’m feeling flirty on a FaceTime and need to sex it up, then it’s fuchsia. If I want the whole place to feel like a music video, there’s a setting that cycles through colors based on the songs I play. The hues shift with the rhythm. Sometimes I’ll even put my projector on for background visuals and record myself dancing (offbeat) as the lights change along to the music. Perhaps you’ve caught one of these performances on Instagram?

Getting the light sent me down a slippery slope: I bought a lava lamp, strip lights, and a neon outline of a girl’s body, like you might see in the window of a dive bar, after that. Now, when all of them are off, the neighbors start to worry. The lights make staying inside feel less dull — certainly more colorful — but none more than the floor lamp. The only con is my electricity bill. Can you believe it’s more than therapy?

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I Use This Lamp to Light Zooms—and Turn My Home Into a Club