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Tube Girl Doesn’t Mind the Gasps

Sabrina Bahsoon. Photo: Dave Benett/Getty Images for MAC/Dave Benett/Getty Images for MAC

Step out onto the streets of any major city these days, and you’re bound to run into at least one person filming a TikTok — or taking a selfie for Instagram, or vlogging their day for YouTube. Over the past few years, documenting our lives for the internet may have become normal online, but that hasn’t made it any less daunting to do so in public. The inevitable judgment, stoked by popular accounts like @influencersinthewild, isn’t for the faint of heart, which is what makes the flamboyant tube-dancing videos posted by 22-year-old Sabrina Bahsoon worthy of some kind of medal of bravery.

Bahsoon grew up in Malaysia, but moved to the U.K. with her parents and four siblings (“I am a sandwich in the middle,” Bahsoon says. “And I feel like that has created a lot of my personality and attention issues.”), remaining in the country to study law. She graduated this summer but knew becoming a lawyer wasn’t really her dream. Hair blowing in the wind from an open carriage, Bahsoon dances to David Guetta and Nicki Minaj’s “Where Them Girls At” on the London Underground, swinging her phone around like she’s the E! News Glambot in an August 13 TikTok video captioned, “Being the friend who lives on the other side of the city so you gotta hype yourself up during the commute.” “I’m too anxious to even scratch an itch in public,” one commenter wrote. “Howww??”

Bahsoon’s now-signature fearlessness and smooth camera work earned the video over 9 million views, landing her the nickname of “Tube Girl” and popularizing a remix of two songs: “Yummy” by Ayesha Erotica and “Righteous” by Mo Beatsl. Upon graduation, she had dreams of embarking on a modeling career — one that’s now been fast-tracked thanks to her success on TikTok. Almost 500 thousand followers later, she’s walking the runway at London Fashion Week thanks to the “Tube Girl” trend, where celebrities from Shay Mitchell to Madelaine Petsch have attempted to make their own versions (although none, I’ll note, as boldly in public).

Obviously, people know you for dancing on the train. I imagine that didn’t just happen out of nowhere one day. Or maybe it did! How did it all come about?
So actually it was quite random. The video wasn’t a planned thing. It was more ’cause my friends didn’t wanna film it for me. Like, “I’m not doing this cringey …” I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna do it myself.” In terms of the concept, it was just in the moment while I was on the tube. I tried it in my house because I was like, “If I’m gonna do this in public, I’m gonna practice a little,” like the camera movements and the dance part and how to get my face in the frame.

Were you posting on TikTok before this?
I was posting a bunch of random stuff. During the pandemic I would post comedy skits, but a lot of it was centered around an interesting sound and then I would make an idea from that. I was just so bored. The pandemic happened during my gap year as well, so I couldn’t work in hospitality anymore. And then when I went to uni, it moved to more fashion-slash-beauty. I had a few viral moments but never anything that stuck or that would gain me followers. I would not expect this to be the thing that made me have this impact.

When you posted your first version of this type of video, was it viral immediately?
When I watched it back, I was like, “Hey, this is kind of fun.” And then I actually didn’t post it immediately. I sent it to my siblings and I was like, “Is this weird? Am I tripping or is this kind of good? Am I slaying in this?” They were like, “It is actually kind of cool.”

I am still quite shy. If you’re going viral online, it’s about how many people are gonna see you. But I also was trying to get out of that mind-set. I was like, “I’m just gonna post what I wanna post.” It didn’t blow up immediately. Then it started growing and growing and growing. And I just made more ’cause I’m on the tube every single day.

Are you able to do it all in one take? How do you navigate filming with the other people there?
I don’t do it in one take. I’m not a supermodel in that way. I take a few takes, but I feel like that kind of makes it look more normal [to other people] than just me getting up and doing my thing. Now I have seen videos of me doing it and actually it just looks like I’m dancing. Nobody ever says anything negative in person, so that’s always lovely. And some people hype me up, which is nice. Recently more people are starting to recognize me.

Do people realize who you are when you start filming?
I did post one video of somebody actually doing that. Every time somebody does catch me, I will offer to get in the video. If you’re gonna stop me from filming, you gotta be in it. I also love to do it with people. I love filming the videos that aren’t just me. And it’s fun seeing how other people interact with it. I love when people join me in the videos, but you gotta match my energy. You can’t just stand there. You gotta look as crazy as me.

Would you say this is in character for you?
A thousand percent, like, I was the annoying person in uni that followed everyone with the camera. I filmed everything, just for memories. And also, I’m just a very “I don’t care” person. So if I wanna do something and if I really wanna do it, I won’t care if other people say, “Oh, this is like this.” I’m like, “No, but I wanna do it.” I’m not very judgmental, so I don’t care how other people live their lives and that helps a lot, because why should they care?

Where is it you’re going in all of these videos?
My friends live on the other side of the city from me. Because I was jobless for two months before this, I would just go see my friends almost every night. I was like, “I can’t sit at home by myself all the time.”

Are you going out to bars or clubs? Where does Tube Girl go in London?Oh my God. Most of the time I go to [my friends’] places, so I’m not gonna recommend them [laughs]. I’m not a big going-out person. I am a bit of an introvert in that way. When we go out, I’m like, “Okay, where do you wanna go?” and I just follow them. So I can’t give any recommendations.

These videos give the vibe that you’re about to go out all night dancing. I love that that energy is just for seeing friends at their houses.
And trust me, me and my friends turn up. We’re not just sitting around. We love music, we love just jamming out together. I do love dancing, so maybe when I get back into London and have some free time, I would love to go out.

How have you explained this to the people in your life, like your family?My siblings keep me humble. But also my family saw me doing my law degree and were like, “You need to find something you [want] to do, because it’s not this.” So my parents are super happy for me now because I can make a living doing what I love. They just want me to stay safe and do everything correctly, and make sure that everything I’m getting into is safe for me. And then my siblings love it. My siblings are sending me all the videos and I send them all the drafts anyways. They are happy for me. I always told them, “I’m gonna be a rock star.”

This has all happened in the past few weeks. What has that been like?The first video was on the 13th of August, and the last two weeks was when it really like … I think the M.A.C show — was it last weekend? It was Sunday? Oh my God. It was five days ago. I have no perception of time anymore, but the last two weeks have been insane.

What has it been like to see your videos become a trend? Even celebrities are doing it.
I cannot fathom it in my mind. Shay Mitchell did it. I was like, “What are you doing? Oh my God, I’ve been watching you since I was a kid and now you’re doing the Tube Girl trend. What is happening?” And Chris Olsen is a creator that I’ve been following since the pandemic, and he made a video yesterday. I honestly can’t catch everything. I have to get my friends and my siblings to send it to me. I love to see how everyone’s kind of breaking away from the normal “Oh, I’m so socially anxious. I can’t do this in front of people” to being like, “I don’t care. This is my life.”

Have your goals changed since going viral? I could totally see you being on Love Island.
First of all, you won’t catch me on Love Island [laughs]. I don’t like dating in 2023. I’m straight. As a woman, it’s been hard.

Getting into the fashion world is super exciting. I love working with these amazing brands who genuinely care about my creativity. And they’ve been lovely about it.

What you’re doing is already a form of modeling, but the tube is just your runway now.
I literally manifested it. Earlier on in my videos, it was just me pretending to be a runway model on the platform every time I had to wait more than five minutes. Like, that was the literal caption. The fact that I’m here, what is going on?

This post has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tube Girl Doesn’t Mind the Gasps