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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Breath, Drink, Design: Tucson’s only oxygen bar and its UA owner

    Janice Biancavilla
    Janice Biancavilla / Arizona Daily Wildcat Graphic designer Rafael Casillas Jr. sits next to one of the oxygen bars inside Breathe, Drink & Design, an oxygen bar and cafe near Fourth Avenue. The company has had decreased business since the construction on Fourth Avenue began three weeks ago.

    It’s time to call attention to the absurd ways people use their lungs.

    People breathe air to live, smoke for a buzz or a high, use inhalers for asthma and other conditions, focus on breathing patterns to reach enlightenment — and they also go to oxygen bars for the countless benefits lauded by bar owners and patrons.

    According to the Chill Out Oxygen Bar website, some benefits include heightened concentration, more energy, better memory, immunity, sight, slower aging, reduced risk of heart disease, less stress and fast physical recovery from exercise.

    “(Oxygen) is just something that really gets you in the zone to really concentrate. And on the fun aspect of it, it’s really good for hangovers,” said Ricky Casillas, owner of Tucson’s only oxygen bar, Breathe, Drink & Design. Casillas is also a Latin American studies graduate student. “I personally do it every time I’m writing or reading a big portion.”

    Oxygen bars first popped up in Mexico, Japan and South America — places where city dwellers sought a break from harsh pollution. According to Casillas, oxygen bars are now gaining popularity in other cities around the world.

    Despite the potentially positive effects, many people remain skeptical about the benefits of oxygen bars. The American Lung Association website says that recreational oxygen isn’t likely to benefit patrons. In other words, recreational oxygen is just a matter of breathing hot air.

    However, because some people with lung problems require prescription oxygen to breathe properly, the Food and Drug Administration classifies oxygen as a prescription drug. Luckily for the bars, it is up to the states’ discretion to enforce prescription drug laws, otherwise oxygen bars could be in violation of the law.

    I paid a visit to Breathe, Drink & Design, where $20 buys tea and oxygen for two people. After a 20-minute session, I was ready to tear the town down. I managed to skate for five hours straight and get kicked out of a parking garage before my energy started to drain — and I even had enough zest left over to write for a few hours afterward.

    As a recovered caffeine fiend, I know for a fact that the tea alone was not enough to keep me going for so long. Either I got hit with a dart dosed with crack, or the oxygen paid off. But that’s just me — everyone’s body reacts differently to foods, supplements and drugs. Before trying anything, do your research. If it looks good to you, roll on down to Fourth Avenue to breathe for a while.

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