Started from the bottom: Tik Tok dance trio goes viral from their basement


There’s no shortage of global dance videos on TikTok, but a trio from Toronto is going viral on the social media platform for the dance moves performed in their family basements.  

The Basement Gang, as the group calls itself, has become increasingly popular for their coordinated dances, fun videos and positive messages. 

Kadeem Hemmings, Nathaniel James and Nicholas McDonald, all 23, make up the group and the viral dances which have amassed more than two million followers and 200 million views on TikTok alone.

“I remember telling my mom when it got to 100,000 likes on a post that this was crazy, we couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t have predicted where things were headed at the time,” said Hemmings. 

What started out as a few high school friends hanging out after class to play video games in Hemmings’s family basement turned into random dance sessions that they ended up filming for fun. 

Six years later, the group has turned their after-school jokes into viral fame. 

“I was sleeping and I woke up to all these texts one day saying we hit a million views on a video for the first time. I looked it up and I was like, ‘What the heck.’ I was shocked,” said McDonald.

“Then when we tried it again for the second time and hit another million, we’re like, ‘We might have something here. Might as well just keep doing it. People love it,'” he added.

The group doesn’t know exactly why the videos have become so popular, only that the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The world’s in a very turbulent place right now. I feel like people get a lot of joy from what we do, even if it’s just for a minute or two. It brings people a little bit of happiness,” said James. He believes the randomness and the fun, chaotic energy the friends bring through the screen may be one of the reasons for their success.

The group says there is no choreography and that a lot of the moves people see onscreen are simply impromptu. 

“It’s just show up, here’s the song and try your best. If one person does a move and we like the move then we’ll just copy him and continue to do it. It’s basically just like follow the leader,” said James.

Left to right, Nicholas McDonald, Nathaniel James and Kadeem Hemmings are the three childhood friends who make up the The Basement Gang. The group started making videos six years ago in Grade 11. (Paul Borkwood)

While the newfound celebrity for the three post-secondary students has brought them followers from around the world, Hemmings says it’s taken them some time to get used to fans noticing them in public. 

“Some people will just come up to us and say. ‘I love your videos, they’re so amazing.’ It’s a bit awkward for me because I never know what to say but I appreciate it all the same,” he said. 

James jokes that his mother has also become the group’s unofficial manager and is always asking them to cover her favourite songs. 

The group says no matter what happens, they just feel good knowing that they’re having fun with friends and seeing others enjoy what they do.

“I feel like we can do anything. No matter what happens, it’s still love,” said Hemmings.

“Nothing can break us apart and we’re just excited to see where things go.” 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.




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