Irene Jiang, Contributing Photographer

After a difficult year of pandemic and isolation, Yale students are returning to the long-cherished tradition of “Woads,” the Yale-only Wednesday night event held at Toad’s Place. As COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, however, some new measures have been implemented to this staple event on campus.

Woads is not affiliated with the University. Nevertheless, Toad’s Place — a nightclub on York Street — has historically turned its Wednesday nights into Yale-exclusive events frequented by the student body. Students last year saw an absence of the famous Wednesday dance parties,  as they dealt with quarantine and a virtual academic year. But now that in-campus life has restarted, part of the return has been a revival of the beloved practice of heading out late in the middle of the week to jam out to “Livin’ on a Prayer” on the dance floor.

Still, not everything is fully back to normal.

“Toads is in the middle of the campus and has a relationship with the University,” Brian Phelps, the owner of Toad’s Place, told the News. “We have been trying to keep our status in a stable condition.”

In past years, Toad’s Place has sent out mass emails to the Yale student body to encourage attendance at Woads. However, according to Phelps, Toad’s Place stopped this practice this year because the University has not sanctioned mass emails that might encourage large groups to come together indoors. 

But despite the lack of publicity, Toad’s continues to host solely Yale students on Wednesday nights. 

“The students that come in may be just passing by and need to take a break from their rigorous studies,” Phelps wrote in an email to the News. “We try to help wherever possible.”

Toad’s Place has also implemented a mask requirement that is enforced when students enter the space, and free masks are offered at the door for those who do not have one. Phelps also shared that Toad’s now has “a huge ventilation fan that is on at all times,” which is meant to help prevent COVID-19 transmission, and that all employees are following COVID-19 safety regulations while working. 

Phelps insisted that the “top priority is safety”, as Woads makes itself a presence once more in the lives of Yale students. 

“If we all can keep everyone ‘reasonably’ safe, the Yale student body will continue to move through the coming decades as the leaders of tomorrow,” he wrote in an email to the News.

Among the newest dance floor occupiers include first years who arrived on Yale’s campus just over a month ago. This fall semester also marks the first time that sophomores have been able to visit the club.

George Karadzhov ’25 said that he “had fun at Woads, but it wasn’t a life-changing, oh-my-gosh-I’m-going-to-be-a-Woads-specialist type of fun.” He said that he thinks it will be more enjoyable once he gets more comfortable on campus. 

George and many of his fellow Pauli Murray first years, including Aurora Dominik ’25, agreed that “Hallowoads” — the Woads that takes place during the week of Halloween — is going to be a highlight of the month of October. Although Toad’s Place is advertising a “Halloween Blacklight Glow Party” on Friday, Oct. 29th, the Wednesday of that week is gaining recognition among Yalies as one of the “must-go” event because of the supposed Halloween themed night.

Upperclassmen Skakel McCooey ’22, who was also a former University desk editor for the News, said that although the club is no longer advertising under the Woads moniker, the event itself has not changed much from pre-pandemic times. 

The event now is “less affiliated with Yale,” McCooey said but is being handled the same way, with the exception of requiring masks as a precaution. He added that he still has fun as an upper level student at the club because the structure of the club itself has not changed since he first arrived at Yale as a first year in 2017.

Although not officially advertised, Woads will continue to run on Wednesday nights for the foreseeable future, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Toad’s Place is located at 300 York St.