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Guy Williams' Flash of inspiration

Gay, straight, bi, don't know, don't care - all are welcome at Flash!

Guy Williams can hardly catch his breath. He apologises again, profusely, as he shoots past at lightning pace for the third of fourth time in a handful of minutes. We understand. We're at the Flash closing party at Pikes Ibiza and the masses have descended.

The party has been a runaway success story this summer and the flow of people that continue to arrive points to the last night being no exception. A labour of love for Guy, tonight is the culmination of three years of hard work with a year of heartache sandwiched in the middle.

Taking his host duties seriously, he is meeting friends as they check-in. Then he needs to get guest headliner Alfredo his pre-set dinner. "We've got to look after him now, haven't we?" Absolutely we must, we agree.

Eventually, everything is sorted. We look around, and although it's still early, the Sunset Terrace is busy and full of smiling faces. If you look after the small details; the bigger things look after themselves. Like an illicit liaison, we slink away to the relative quiet of Pikes' tennis court.

From being present at the dawn of the Acid House movement in the late '80s, to establishing himself as a key DJ on the northern circuit in the early '90s before relocating to London and further immersing himself in the music industry, Guy Williams knows the business inside out.

A key figure in the gay scene since the very beginning, there are few more respected and accomplished DJs out there.

Tonight, we are here to discuss his gay-mix boutique party, Flash and recount how it came to be Pikes' most in-demand night, no matter what your persuasion.

Gay Ibiza

"Like a lot of people do, I had been banging on about moving to Ibiza for many years." Guy confesses. "I started coming here in 1994. In 2017 I finally came to the decision that I was going to take the jump at the beginning of 2018.

During October 2017 as the closing parties were happening, I sat down with Sarah Broadbent. I used to be a resident at Space for We Love, so we're old friends. I told her, “I'm finally going to do it.” She said, “It's about time!” Then she asked me to come and do something at Pikes."

"I had already played at Pikes off-and-on for ten to fifteen years already. I loved the place and Andy and Dawn are both very good friends of mine from Manchester, so, you know, when they took on Pikes, that was a little like the stars aligning.

They've given it an upscale, but in a really tasteful way.

In further discussions with Sarah, she mentioned that Pikes was missing a gay-mix type of event. My initial reaction was, not just Pikes, but Ibiza in general. There used to be a lot of bigger parties like that, like La Troya and Matinée. Perhaps they're a bit more commercial, but there was definitely a gap for something a little more intimate and authentic.

There's been a shift in culture. Since dating apps, such as Grindr and Tinder, have become widespread, the clubs generally got noticeably quieter. We were already seeing the effects of that in places like London ten years ago.

I mean, they're not completely deserted, there's still some great gay club nights to be found and pockets of scenes going on. But in the wider context, you definitely saw a shift. That's obviously played a factor here as well, but then a lot of the gay crowd are starting to discover other destinations, such as Mykonos."

Scenes from the parade at Ibiza Gay Pride 2021 by La Skimal

"Ibiza still has a strong gay pull factor, of course it does. But it's also true to say that it has diminished a lot. Look, in a roundabout way, we've benefited from that.

And obviously, as well, Pikes is a playground for everybody, whether you're gay, straight, black or white, but it didn't yet have something for the mixed crowd to focus on. The next thing to do was come up with a name..."

What's in a name? The birth of Flash

"I used to play at the Haçienda in Manchester for a party called Flesh", Guy enthuses. "It was the big gay night there and really amazing. Originally, I felt like I should do an ode to that. At one point, I was even seriously considering calling it Flesh.

I almost called Paul Cons, the original promoter of the party, then I had second thoughts. It was a nice idea, but it needed to be something new in its own right.

Later, I was on a Skype call with a German friend who speaks pretty fluent English and he asked me what I was going to call it?"

One of The Haçienda's most iconic parties: Flesh

"I told him I was debating calling it Flesh, and because the pronunciation over the connection, it got a little lost in translation. He misunderstood and said, “Oh yeah, I love the name Flash.” I said, “no, not Flash, Flesh.” But the more I thought about it, it kinda worked.

Plus, his line of work is as a merchandiser, and he went on to say, “you can do really cool merch, with this logo and that...” So I came away from that Skype call knowing that is what we were going to do. It sounds corny, but like a lightning bolt, it was a flash of inspiration!

Then we started in June 2018. The concept was to bring over other promotions that shared the same ethos - mixed, no prejudice, everyone welcome door policy: Homoelectric, Little Gay Brother, Adonis - mainly UK-based outfits since Pikes is fairly Brit-centric.

We kicked-off with Homoelectric, my old Manchester disco family. As we went through the season, it built. We put a lot of hard work in."

Putting in the graft

"During that summer I was literally going around Ibiza Town putting posters up at the age of 48 years old! Like a flyer boy. It paid off.

I was putting posters up in friends' bars. It wasn't an official, mass marketing campaign with large budget for flyers or anything like that. But essentially, it was still me going around by myself, visiting bars, some of the beaches...

I had this idea to put posters in toilets, on the back of cubicle doors. Generally, people will always visit the toilet. And we were getting attendees saying to us that they heard about the event from seeing the advertising in the toilet! That kind of guerilla marketing worked really well."

Flash Fan - Flash at Pikes - owned by Lorenzo Melissari

"It will be a nice to see that type of thing come back next year. I like that you can see a visual piece of branding. The difference between those first years and now, is that we've made a name for ourselves now. We're known.

When we got to the Flash closing of 2018, that was the busiest one to date. The following summer was bigger again. We totally smashed it. Saturdays in the Chez Fez room and once a month on Fridays for a full takeover.

By the time we got to the closing in October 2019, there was 950 people on the list. Only 700 got in. Since Covid began, we're only allowed 200 in here - three times less than that. But we've adapted."

Riding out the storm

"Last year, Sarah said they still wanted us to do something. If not Flash, then something. I was a little hesitant at first, knowing that it wouldn't be the same. No Freddies, reduced capacity, everybody seated. I wanted to be able to differentiate it from Flash itself.

Back in the day, I used to DJ at a night called Trade, which was a gay afterhours at Turnmills in London. The main room was proper Hard House and Techno with Tony De Vit, but I played House in the second room called Tradelite. So then I thought 'Flashlite'."

Trade at Turnmills, London - by James Mo

Trade was a notorious gay afterhours at the former Turnmills in London

"That's where that idea came from. You know, it's a clever play on words; it worked.

So all of last summer, once a week was Flashlite. It was more masks, more sitting down. This year, it was going to Flashlight again. But I did have this yearn to bring Flash back if we could.

Like everybody else, the pandemic had broke us financially. I teamed up with previous collaborators, STRYYK, which is a non-alcoholic spirits brand. There's a gin, a vodka, a rum and not only are they all completely alcohol free, but sugar free as well."

STRYKK - Flash at Pikes - owned by Lorenzo Melissari

STRYYK's range of non-alcoholic spirits, available at Pikes

"The range is now listed as the alcohol free alternative at Pikes. As a result of the partnership, it helped bring Adonis and Homoelectric over again, as well as the amazing Lucy Fizz as host. Although we didn't have Freddies, we still had a great time playing out on the Sunset Terrace.

This year, it's worked really well out back. As the season progressed, we started going later, from midnight to 02:00. Now we can finish at 04:00, it feels really late!

Especially for me, I'm starting work at 15:30, maybe 16:00. It's a 12 to 13 hour stint. I'm not complaining. It's been really good.

Next year it should be amazing."

Looking ahead

"Even though we can't dance and everybody needs to book their table in advance, every single Flash party this summer has been fully subscribed. Over the course of summer, it's consistently been one of the busiest and most profitable events in Pikes' calendar. That's a great feeling.

Just in the last hour alone, I've had a handful of messages from people I don't know, asking if there have been any last minute cancellations. It's definitely got a reputation for itself.

Obviously, we'll still need to promote it next year, but it's got a name for itself now.

It took a lot of work to get Flash off the ground, don't get me wrong. 2018 was the tester year and couldn't have gone better. We are very excited for what 2022 holds."

The journey of the night and a return to Freddies?

"Because of the way Pikes is laid out and operates, you can start by the pool and be really chilled and Balearic and build it up. Chill Out, Balearia, Deep House and Funk by pool, to Jackin' House, House and Acid House in Freddies. It's that journey."

Flash in full-swing in Freddies with Little Gay Brother in the pre-pandemic era

"Pre-Covid, and hopefully next year too, we did the pool for three hours from 20:00 until 23:00, at which point Freddies would start and continue until 04:00. In that format, the back terrace, which is the current focal point, was more of a chill-out spot.

Who knows, maybe we will keep DJs out there, as it's worked really well. Bring back the chill out DJ, why not? We've got plenty of DJs who can do that well.

In the last few weeks, we've started to push it a bit more on the Sunset Terrace when it gets to the final few hours. People are able to move about more. I think Pikes and Flash, well, all the nights here, Melon Bomb etc., we've all adapted and made the best of the situation.

Next year, we should all be back properly dancing and sweating over each other." Yes, we hope so too.

Booking the talent

Flash resident DJs - Flash at Pikes - owned by Lorenzo Melissari

"In the first year, we had two girls known as R U OK HUN? who have quite a large following on Instagram.

They're a gorgeous gay couple who were living in San Antonio. They DJ and were putting their own parties on but they were also my residents in 2019. Unfortunately, they ended up having to leave the island because of Covid.

Another resident is Jon Jak, who's an old friend of mine and a great DJ. He used to do gigs in Thailand and he's flown me out there to play a few times before. He's been playing weekly this year, as well as S/A/M.

I only met her for the first time in April 2020 at a friend's villa party. He had his decks out and she was DJing."

Guy Williams and S/A/M together behind the decks

"I recognised her, but hadn't been introduced but I loved every single record she was playing but didn't know any of them! There isn't a better sign. I thought, this person has a really great taste in music. And I was right, she's been a great resident.

Off the back of playing for Flash, she got invited to play at El Chiringuito and she's ended up with a residency there too.

We've supported her and she deserves it. She's an exceptionally hard worker. I don't know how she manages to juggle all her work commitments with this vast musical knowledge.

Those guys have been my residents and then I've had regular guests, such as Jo Mills, who's an old friend, an amazing DJ and somebody we've managed to get on board several times this year, Santanna Oush, who always rocks it and whose energy is so infectious, Mr Doris and Alfredo too."

Alfredo - Flash at Pikes - owned by Lorenzo Melissari

The Godfather of Balearic Beat: Alfredo played twice for Flash this summer

"Tonight is the second time he's played for us. Before we booked him the first time, I asked him when the last time he played Pikes was and it was about two years ago. We had to remedy that."

Bringing Flash to the UK

"We've already done a couple of Flash events in the UK. We did a socially-distanced event with Disco Disco. They do parties at 93 Feet East in Shoreditch, London. We teamed-up at The Cause, which was as much fun as you could have sat down. That was in December last year.

We found we really liked working together, so we're doing another party in London on 13 November. This time it will be a proper full-on club vibe at Colours in Hoxton with The 2 Bears (half of Hot Chip), Siggy Smalls and Ruby Murry, who is also a host for Flash."

"Before that, at Halloween we're teaming up with our friends Supernature Disco in Manchester at Escape To Freight Island. It's always great to play back in my hometown.

So within the space of a few weeks, we'll be doing Manchester and London. I'm really looking forward to both dates.

I've actually just done five weeks of gigs in the UK: Homoelectric at Hidden in Manchester, that was really booting off, the Pikes festival at Marston Park, Wildwood Disco. It was just, like, wow. Almost like Covid never happened.

After that run of gigs, I'm going to have a very quiet end of the year. That's the aim."

You know what, Guy, we think you've earned your break. Enjoy the parties, then enjoy putting your feet up. You're going to need plenty of energy for Ibiza 2022.

FLASH IMAGES | owned and supplied by Lorenzo Melissari

We look forward to the return of Flash to Pikes Ibiza next summer. In the meantime, UK-based fans have the date with Disco Disco at Colours in Hoxton on Saturday 13 November to look forward to.

Last remaining tickets for that party can be purchased here.

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