June 2009

Prana International • Island nightclub sheds light on the energy of life

Author: Kate Hanzalik | Photographer: MORGAN EDDINGTON

“Prana is a word that describes the birth of life. It is the energy that goes through your back that allows you to breathe and move,” explained Octavio Campo, owner of the heavily trafficked Prana International on 130 Arrow Road, which, on an average night, welcomes more than 600 people to its lavish ground-floor space with several bars, a dance pit and swanky lounge. It is a place that houses fire-breathing bartenders (literally) and the walls are lined with flags and painted flames. Always loud in the background or front- in-center on the stage is music. Live local or national acts, classics from the ’70s, ’80s and early’90s, Top 40 hits, and sultry Latin on Sundays. “You walk in, and I want you to be affected by all five senses.” said Campo.

“Especially the taste,” added the sage bartender, Richard Rankin, who has been serving up drinks for 21 years. “The island hasn’t had anything like this in 15 years, and I think they’re ready for it again.”

Keep your ears open for the shot calls when Campo gives you complimentary drinks, and there are a few other things you should know, too: ladies get paid $5 to party on Friday, when vodka is only $1; drafts on Saturday are 25 cents; Wednesday is two-for-one wine. Anytime the song Tequila plays, jump on top of the bar and suck down a tequila shot and, at the end of the night, if you are still standing, have one last hoorah on top of the bar and pound one down with the bartenders to good old “New York, New York.”

The club is borderline burlesque on some nights, sporty on others, with games that only an experienced club owner like Campo could come up with. “On the dance floor, we have sonic volleyball, where we stretch a [net] on each cage and play volleyball,” Campo said. “We have a magician that entertains the crowd early. We have a stilt walker that passes out glow sticks.” Explore the strange challenges of cream-corn wrestling, turkey bowling, male amateur stripping, banana eating contests, mechanical bull riding, Jell-O wrestling, and even an air guitar contest. “I have been in the business for 34 years. I have lots of pages of things to do all the time,” Campo said. (Campo got an early start as a DJ in Staten Island; the first night club he owned was in West Virginia. Since then, he has owned seven. He clearly knows what he’s doing.)

The club hosts countless theme parties, such as pajama parties, toga parties and “Life is a Beach” bathing suit parties, where “any lady who walks in with a bathing suit will drink free,” he said.

And not to worry, things are safe and secure. “Even on a Friday night,” said bartender, Matt Clark. “We have two security guards on and we haven’t had a single problem. It’s a really good atmosphere. I think the music has a lot do with it—keeping the atmosphere fun and lively,” he explained.

Clubbers are from all over the world at Prana International and vary in age from 18 to 50. Locals and tourists alike head out to the club five days a week. “The name international has to do with the flavor of the place; you name the country and we have it. I see people here from India, Japan, Puerto Rico, Cuba… They pick out their flags when they walk in,” said Campo, who is from Columbia.
According to Campo, shortly after he opened the club in August, 2008, the grand opening in October brought in more than 900 people. “Four-hundred is a slow night,” he said. “We get six to seven hundred every Friday.”

Specials at-a-glance
Wednesdays: Live band, no cover charge, two-for-one wine.
Thursdays: Big ’80s night, $1 vodkas.
Fridays: Top 40, hip hop, rock, and classic. No cover charge.
Saturdays: Cinderella Nights—ladies get paid $5 to party.
Sundays: Live Latin, Rehab n’ Retro, 25 cent drafts.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Prana International is located at 130 Arrow Rd., Suite 104. For more information, call (843) 785-7762 or visit online at pranainternational.com.

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