July 13, 2024


On TikTok, videos filmed in public are nothing new. People record themselves on packed streets and college campuses, in coffee shops and parks. But recording yourself on public transport — especially while dancing — is enough to cause waves. London’s Tube Girl has proved that.

If you’ve been on the app lately, it’s likely you’ve seen a girl filming herself on London’s underground trains, each video in 0.5 mode. She dances to upbeat songs by Nicki Minaj, ignores stares from fellow passengers, and touts confidence: “Romanticise your journey,” she suggests in one video. “Trust me, no one actually cares.”

Behind the obsession

It turns out, people actually do care about her videos, but in the best way possible.

Sabrina Bahsoon has gained TikTok popularity almost overnight for her brazen shows of confidence on the Tube. The 22-year-old from Malaysia, now living and working in London, posted her first viral Tube video in August. Now, her feed is littered with similar posts, with almost all garnering upwards of a million views. Comments call out her confidence (“How do u do this in a populated car ???? 😭”), windswept hair (“Where does the wind come from and where is this ? 😍😍😍”), and praise her style of filming (“the camerawork is so satisfying it’s scrumptiously made i rate 10/10”).

Speaking to the BBC last week, Bahsoon, a law graduate from Durham University, said, “I think that the Tube Girl has already become something more than just dancing on the Tube. So I think it’s about confidence and it’s about being more comfortable with your authentic self.”

Enter: Tube Girl Effect

Now sitting at over 400,000 followers on TikTok, Bahsoon has snagged her first runway gig (making her debut at MAC Cosmetics’ show during London Fashion Show) and been credited with creating a niche TikTok phenomenon. The hashtag #tubegirl has 281 million views and #tubegirleffect has over 70 million at the time of writing.

Three creators dancing on public transport, mimicking the Tube Girl.

Credit: TikTok / @getoffmybacckk, @justlivingmylifeperiod, @jiayuejenny

In the latter camp are videos inspired by the creator. Across major cities, people are mimicking Bahsoon’s distinctive videos on their own modes of public transport. Influencers like Abbie Herbert and Issey Moloney have posted their own renditions of the trend. They move the camera swiftly, use songs similar to Bahsoon’s playlist choices, and often tag her in the captions.

A creator sitting on public transport in a TikTok screenshot.

Credit: TikTok / @bellasbunker

Bahsoon’s original post may not have been built to spark a self-love movement but it has certainly blossomed into one. Many TikTokkers engaging with the trend write about using it to beat social anxiety, increase confidence in public, and how filming the video is changing their view of an otherwise dire morning commute.

For a while now, TikTok has plunged into the discourse of being “cringe”. Some practice cringe comedy, while others propose TikTok as a way to embrace the cringe within us all. The Tube Girl effect seems to be a byproduct of this, essentially being proposed by followers as a way to embrace confidence and subvert social perceptions. It’s also in line with a Very Online concept often purported by those of TikTok: the idea to not take anything, really, too seriously.

Dancing on the Tube or subway is a moment of being truly unapologetic and unbothered, say mimickers of the Tube Girl effect. It’s a reflection of Bahsoon, as writes in one caption, “Personally i think I’m slaying and trusssttt nobody cares.”


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