Hello Heather and all,
I train at a "no test dojo" - of sorts. It's a fairly informal/un-japanese club. We say "thank you" in english, and simply bow to one another standing before each paired practice.
Our instrucotrs (we don't use "sensei") offer that if any individual wants to test, we can do so through the umbrella aikido organization (Irish Aikido Association). So, even though the option is there, it is ineffect a no-rank dojo.
And yes - our instructors hold dan degrees!
I've also trained in a more japanese settting, and tested there. I think testing is a great (though wholly frightening! ) experience.
That said, I think the reason this club doesn't test is to make aikido more accesible (don't quote me on that! It is just my impression!). It's also interesting to me when I have someone ask me if it's my first class too!!
- or vice versa : when someone treats me like I could be their senior.