While only 30 miles separate them, Chicago and Gary, Indiana, are worlds away culturally. Both locales dot the shore of Lake Michigan, but one is a bustling metropolis and center of industry, the other is one of America’s terminal cities. U.S. Census estimates Gary’s population plunged from 175,000 in 1970 down to 80,000 in 2010. And while Chicago boasts hundreds of musical legends—electric blues forefathers like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, rappers like Common and Chief Keef, as well as footwork legend DJ Rashad—one would struggle to name a musical act beyond Gary’s favorite sons, the Jackson 5.
So it makes sense that there would be a different perspective on the Chicago-sourced footwork tracks coming from Gary native Jerilynn Patton, who is proud of her beleaguered hometown—and quick to set herself apart from its downtrodden stereotypes. "When most people think of Gary, they think of either crime or an industrial wasteland," she says. "I'm here, but that's not my thing."